The road to ignominy

Two Aussie high achievers take low road to ignominy

I’ve been having the gravest doubts about two celebrated Australians whom I have previously admired – former High Court judge Michael Kirby and millionaire entrepreneur Dick Smith. In recent months both have been shown in their truer colours and it has been ugly.

Kirby has always been a worry. I could never understand why he stayed “in the closet” for decades and only made a public announcement of his decades-long homosexual partnership with Johan von Vloten after he left the High Court in 2009.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt and put his embarrassed silence down to the intense homophobia in the judiciary, the legal profession and within the political and media class. But I always felt it would have been so liberating for the gay community – and society at large – if he declared his homosexuality while serving on Australia’s highest court.

I knew Kirby was an ardent Liberal, Catholic and monarchist but, again, I chose to ignore these arcane preferences and point to his staunch advocacy of legal rights, gay rights and judicial common sense.

However, his highly-vocal support for the brutal and racist regime in Israel and his eccentrically violent attitude to North Korea – where he appears to be advocating a US-led bombing campaign – has lost me.

The jurist becomes propagandist

The late judge Moshe Landau

In an interview with the pro-Israel propaganda sheet, Australian Jewish News (1 September 2017), Kirby praised to high heaven two of Israel’s most notorious “judges”, Moshe Landau and Aharon Barak. In the course of the interview Kirby said he was “very impressed by Israel, of course, by a country that has a rule of law principle in its constitution, that has liberal and forward-looking judges and upholds the principle that there are no black holes in the law.”

Judge Aharon Barak

It is a priceless endorsement for the villainous rulers of the pariah state. Kirby’s endorsement flies in the face of countless international courts and legal authorities in Europe, Asia and North America who have condemned repeated violations of the rule of the law. Judges have upheld torture, incarceration without trial, state violence against minors and racially biased legal judgements. They have ignored war crimes, land theft, community punishments, faked evidence and false testimony.

In a brilliantly researched essay in New Matilda (September 10), journalist Michael Brull reports that in 1987 Landau headed a commission into police and army interrogation of Palestinians. He concluded that the “effective interrogation of terrorist suspects is impossible without the use of means of pressure” [i.e. torture – AM]. When ordinary interrogation techniques “fail to achieve their goal, the use of a moderate degree of physical pressure is unavoidable” [i.e. more torture – AM].

Kirby joins US war party

Addicted to publicity, Kirby last year agreed to conduct a human rights inquiry in North Korea. The results were as expected because the regime has a shocking record of abusing its citizenry as well as those who oppose its Stalinist rule.

But the language of Kirby’s report was simply outrageous. Gone was the precise and forensic approach that he employed while on the High Court; instead he wrote a stream of lurid and exaggerated claims which thrilled the Washington warmongers.

By design or not, it fell right into Hillary Clinton’s narrative to capture the White House in the 2016 presidential election. The Clinton plan was to launch a pre-emptive military attack on North Korea days after her inauguration and thereby capture headlines around the world as a “woman of steel”.

Kirby is now saddled with President Donald Trump’s threat to attack North Korea with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.

Can we know the size of his fee for writing the “human rights” report? Not short of a couple of million dollars, I suspect.

It’s remarkable how the targets of US military aggression are invariably some of the smallest and poorest nations on earth – Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and now North Korea.

Excuse me, waiter, purple hearts all round.

Dick Smith’s mask slips

When I joined media proprietor John Fairfax & Sons in 1986, I inherited Dick Smith, the publicity-obsessed founder of the Dick Smith electronic gadget chain. He had open access to the columns of The Sydney Morning Herald for any crackpot idea he came up with on politics, education, aviation, agriculture, water, energy or the environment.

With monotonous regularity he would announce that he intended standing for parliament. Great swathes of coverage would be unleashed accompanied by letters to the editor, political commentary and editorials. They would all come to nothing. Mr Smith would not come to Canberra; he was always a no-show.

Dick Smith complaining outside the ABC

Early this month Smith was splashed all over the SMH to elaborate his over-worked, chauvinist and xenophobic views on “Buy Australian”. This time he took things a step further by agreeing with immigration policies promoted by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and standing outside the ABC HQ in Sydney complaining about the broadcaster’s alleged “bias” against him.

By not allowing him on the ABC “our democratic process” is being “warped”, he claimed, adding: “It is basically treasonous.” Accusing the ABC of “treason” is the purest form of political dementia emanating from Ms Hanson, Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi. He is welcome to keep that company, but I never have; nor will I. For good measure, I won’t be buying any Dick Smith Vegemite or peanut butter either.

Implosion of Pauline Hanson

On the subject of Ms Hanson and her Mutt and Jeff associates (James Ashby and Senator Malcolm Roberts) have you noticed that the flame-haired politician has quietly withdrawn some candidates from the next state election in Queensland?

You probably missed it because the mainstream media has largely ignored her retreat since it shows that the Hanson bandwagon is running out of puff.

Only a few months ago, Hanson’s public relations engine, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids in Queensland, NSW and Victoria, were publishing eye-rubbing articles that Hanson would “win government” in the Sunshine State.

Now they are sneaking out low-key announcements that One Nation has decided NOT to stand candidates in LNP-held Cleveland, two Katter-held seats and in Labor Jo-Ann Miller’s seat of Bundamba.

Why? Because One Nation would be thrashed. It is a party without policies and without candidates with the … ahem … “qualifications” or “qualities” to occupy seats in parliament. Any parliament, that is.

Rorts in the NSW police

Years ago, the NSW police had a time-honoured superannuation and pension plan called HOD – Hurt On Duty. Claiming to have suffered a back strain or a shoulder pain, they would rush off to a designated doctor, usually a broken-down quack with a drug or alcohol habit, and get him/her to issue a formal HOD notice.

That was sufficient to obtain retirement on a full medical pension for life. At the age of 40 or 50, with the rank of sergeant, inspector or superintendent, they could walk out of the force with a large superannuation package plus a medical pension. Many headed to the North Coast or the South Coast to buy a newsagency, a bait shop, a caravan park or take a job as security manager at a local RSL club.

Today’s NSW police bludge is a variation of HOD. In Tweed Heads the News Ltd press claims there is a police “crisis” and local officers are threatening industrial action to force an increase in their numbers. However, the alarmist press overlooks the fact that if the full quota of local area police actually showed up for work there would be no “crisis”. The shortage of police is the result of 20% of local cops being on injury or stress leave. (Some say the figure is nearer 30%.)

This is the highest rate of absenteeism in NSW, higher than any other area command. Why? The far North Coast is reckoned to be one of the healthiest areas in the State – fresh air, clean water, blue skies, perfect beaches for swimming, surfing or walking. So how come the fittest professionals – the boys and girls in blue – are falling ill in record numbers?

Last week I broke one of my own cardinal rules which is never to write Letters to the Editor. I dashed off a letter to the weekend edition of the News Ltd-owned Tweed Daily News to counter brain-dead support for those Tweed cops rorting the system and allegedly suffering from stresses and strains. Gimme a break! Some of the absentees are working for private security firms at nightclubs, bars and hotels on the Gold Coast on their rostered days off.

My letter reads:

“NSW police officers are queuing up to transfer to the Tweed Heads-Kingscliff-Byron Bay area command. It is the State’s popular destination for police because the life-style, overtime and working conditions are so blissful.

The local command just became even more attractive with Friday’s opening of a brand new police HQ in Wharf Street, Tweed Heads. And yet the opening, performed in the presence of Police Minister Troy Grant and Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, has drawn threats to strike by local cops who are being directed by the all-powerful NSW Police Association (‘Police at break point – Industrial action and petition calling for more officers’, Tweed Daily News, Sept 6)

In the same article, Tweed MP Geoff Provest revealed that 20% of the local police force is currently on sick leave or injury leave. If 20% of hospital, school, ambulance or council staff was on sick leave, there would be a public outcry and a high-level inquiry. In the private sector, businesses would probably closedown if 20% of staff fell sick at the same time.

My solution is simple: sick and injured cops should be invited back to work or to take a transfer to the healthy climate of Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Broken Hill or Wagga Wagga to undertake intensive rehabilitation. I’m willing to bet they would be ‘cured’ overnight and declare themselves fit to work.”

My letter was not intended to offend the dedicated 80% of officers who are going about their duties professionally and diligently. However, they should be encouraged to call out the rorters and scammers in their own ranks, whatever their rank.

Opening of the new Tweed Heads police station

Truth about fake news

Every time I hear another radio or TV discussion about “fake news” I switch off. Where have these people been for the past few years? Living under a rock in a cave somewhere?

Haven’t they heard of WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction], the trumped-up “fake news” used by George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard to invade and occupy Iraq killing tens of thousands of people, forcing at least two million people to become refugees and turning the Republic of Iraq into a war-torn, impoverished failed state?

The pro-imperialist Western media swallowed the WMD story whole. Today the war criminals remain at large, uncharged and unconvicted and their media accomplices have been promoted to in-house senior editorial positions where they can commit further “fake news” atrocities.


Quote of the Week I

“I would have won but for Jim Comey’s letter. That stopped my momentum and it really caused enough people to move away from me.” 

– Hillary Clinton at the launch of her new book, What Happened, in Manhattan this week blaming ex-FBI director James Comey for her White House defeat.

Quote of the Week II

“Among the enduring criticisms of Hillary Clinton: Her sense of entitlement is limitless. She’s tone-deaf and doesn’t understand the average American – nor does she care to. Her greed in insatiable. Add to this a gaping lack of self-awareness, and you have all the ingredients for the New York City launch of Hillary Clinton’s nationwide book tour.”

– columnist Maureen Callahan

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