Alex Mitchell’s WEEKLY NOTEBOOK – Mad Monk

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is swinging from the yardarm like a piece of carrion; his party will cut him down and toss him into the sea when the smell becomes intolerable.
Liberal MPs prefer to “give a man another go” so the fatally wounded corpse may hang around for a few months longer.
Labor ruffians are much more at home with the practice of regicide and have few qualms about stabbing an opponent in the back (or the front).
This will come as a relief to Labor’s Bill Shorten who is sailing buoyantly in the polls because the Mad Monk is so loathed – and not because Labor is offering a dramatic reform programme to build the health service, rescue education and universities and restore ABC and SBS funding.
Abbott is sandbagging himself behind the grim rhetoric of terrorism. Every hour of the day he appears to surround himself with army personnel, police and ASIO officers to talk about the “death cult” stalking our streets.
He excelled himself on Thursday by telling Parliament he had seen a videotape seized by the police in the western Sydney home of two Arab men charged with terrorism offences.
How had the police evidence made its way from Sydney to Canberra in the hours after their arrest? Why wasn’t it bagged and locked up in the police central evidence room?
It had the suspicious smell of the PM over-inflating police evidence or grandstanding to avoid questions about his helpless isolation in his own party room and the country at large.

Subs will sink Abbott

“Pig Iron” Bob Menzies was Attorney-General when he threatened to use troops to defeat waterside workers refusing to load scrap iron for Imperial Japan in 1938.
Tony Abbott is following in the footsteps of his political hero. He’s announced a “special relationship” with the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe which is unpicking Japan’s peace constitution and rearming at a phenomenal rate.
At the centre of the Canberra-Tokyo axis is a free trade agreement which Abbott triumphantly unveiled in July last year.
This was followed by a “royal visit” to Canberra in July during which Abe addressed both houses of parliament.
In private talks with Abe, Abbott agreed to clear away wartime animosities and give Japanese shipbuilders the contract to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines.
In return, Abe would sign the Free Trade Agreement, address parliament and boost Abbott publicly as a statesman. (The latter was to counter the reputation Kevin Rudd had built as an Asian treaty broker).
Veterans, war widows, scholars and diplomats choked when Abbott told Abe that he regarded Japan as “an exemplary international citizen” and declared Australia and Japan were “strategic partners sharing common responsibilities” in the Asia-Pacific region.
Never mind the meltdown in China, right-wing Japanese newspapers were jubilant: “Enthusiastic ovation to Abe performance from the Australian Parliament – China grinding their teeth”, said Sankei Shimbun.
Last weekend, on the eve of the party room vote on whether to spill the leadership, Abbott broke his word to Abe and said the submarine contract would go to tender.
Apparently the Japanese ambassador and Abe’s Tokyo office were thrown into utter confusion. They believed the tender was “in the bag” and preliminary work had already begun on design and construction modelling.
When South Australians eventually realise they have been dudded and the contract will create thousands of highly skilled jobs in the Japanese work force, there will be a political explosion.
Meanwhile Bill Shorten is saying very little and giving no commitment to award the contract to the ASC, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation. He and Abbott are tough on refugees and children in detention, but watch them fall on their knees before Tokyo’s global corporations.

Washington’s man

Everyone, including me, concentrated on ridiculing the knighthood for Prince Philip in the recent Honours List. We inadvertently overlooked the embarrassingly modest bauble given to Stephen Loosley, former general secretary of the NSW ALP. Since leaving Sussex Street, Loosley has turned himself into a roving envoy for Washington. Writing about one of his increasingly frequent trips to the US, Loosley confessed to readers of The Spectator, Oz edition, that he was “an Amerophile”. He reported on his discussions with the cloak-and-dagger crowd saying: “Cyber espionage is top of the international security agenda in Washington DC. In discussions with senior US officials it is pleasing to note the very close co-operation between Australians and Americans in meeting this serious challenge to our national interest, while maintaining a common commitment to open communications in our societies.”
This was at the very time the courageous whistleblower Bradley Manning was being locked up and American was conducting a worldwide manhunt for Edward Snowden to charge him with treason. Some commitment to “open communications in our societies”.

Post-nuclear letter

British Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed that one of his most testing responsibilities is writing and signing the letters which RN commanders of nuclear-armed submarines open if mainland Britain is subjected to nuclear attack. The previous Tory Prime Minister John Major told historian Lord Peter Hennessy, a former Times reporter, that he too was daunted by the prospect. Major told Hennessy: “The first I realised that I was going to have to write post-Armageddon instructions to our four Trident submarines [they were, in fact, Polaris boats still doing the patrolling in 1990] was when the Cabinet Secretary told me. And it is quite an extraordinary introduction to the premiership. I remember I went away over the weekend and I thought about it a lot. And it was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do—to write those instructions; the essence of them being that if the UK is wiped out but its Trident submarines are at sea with their weaponry, what should they then do with their weaponry. Eventually I reached a conclusion and I set it out.”
Cameron told Hennessy in an interview at No 10 Downing Street last year: “I sat at that chair and there’s a great big shredder that was placed right here and you write . . . you choose which basic letter you want, make any amendments to it you want and then you seal it up and you shred all the rest. And so nobody hopefully will ever see these letters. It goes into the safe of the Trident submarine and then hopefully when you stop being Prime Minister they take it out and burn it and no one will have ever opened it.” (Lord Hennessy’s lecture, ‘What are prime ministers for?’ to the British Royal Society in 2014)
Can you imagine what Tony Abbott’s letter would read like? “Dear All, Sorry about the stuff up but we have stopped the boats and we did end the carbon tax and the mining tax. George Pell and Peta send their greetings and I want to say thanks on behalf of a grateful nation. You all deserve knighthoods.”

One comment

  1. Typically the British PMs don’t say what their instructions were. I am reminded of the doctrine of MAD (mutually assured destruction). Or maybe of the Mad Magazine? That wonderfully anarchic view of the world in the ’70s. Hmmm.

    Let us dream the instructions were to scuttle the submarine and to paddle to the nearest idyllic coral atoll with its honeyed maidens, bare breasts and leis? No, I don’t think so either 🙁

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