Commonwealth Games hypocrisy exposed … Rescue alert for English royals … Anti-China lobby erupts … Australia’s new commander-in-chief is a Liberal tool … Why public libraries desperately need a hand … Farewell to Bob Walshe, a good bloke … Judge criticises “selfie” obsessives
Commonwealth Games hypocrisy exposed
Let’s face it, this month’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast was a carefully staged-managed hoopla to achieve two of Britain’s political objectives:
- Ensure that the English royal family stays at the head of the Commonwealth, formerly known as the British Empire;
- Ensure that English Prime Minister Theresa May’s Tory minority government achieves a trade agreement with the Commonwealth out of the calamity of Brexit.
The sporting events were merely window dressing as Prince Charles and his second wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Duchess of Cornwall, waved and smiled their way through the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Bundaberg and Darwin to underline their claim to the English throne after the demise (abdication?) of Mrs Betty Windsor, aka QE2.
King Charles III, head of state of Australia, and Queen Camilla – will their mug shots really appear on Australian stamps and coins too?
After the main couple had flown back home (i.e. England), Prince Harry and his betrothed, Meghan Markle, were paraded before adoring crowds of Sydney Z-listers hoping for “selfies” and wedding invitations. Morning TV hosts embarrassed everyone by wetting themselves …
Lord Marland, chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, let the cat out of the bag when he called on the Commonwealth to work with the Tory government to reach an agreement on free trade.
He urged the 53-nation Commonwealth to form a free trading bloc as “the only way to survive”. It wasn’t clear whether he meant the survival of the royal family on Theresa May’s Tories.
Marland is a ferocious old Tory. He was a former treasurer of the Tory Party and Tory trade diplomat who is desperately trying to re-ignite London’s role as plunderer-in-chief of former Crown colonies and their 2.4 billion people (most of living below the poverty line).
He told The Times: “The Commonwealth has been a jewel that has actually been parked in someone’s drawer for too long. What’s rather exciting about the UK, from a Commonwealth point of view, coming out of the European Union [Brexit], is that it forces it to look at alternative markets and increase its market share in those markets.
“For the UK government to ignore that as an opportunity would be, I think, a dereliction of duty, to be honest.”
Equally, to be honest, I think it would be rather exciting to tell Lord Marland, Mrs May and the bloodsucking City of London to sod off and to abandon their fanatasy of re-igniting colonial exploitation.
But my views are not shared by Australian groveller-in-chief Malcolm Turnbull. He has announced he wants a free trade agreement with the “mother country” and has committed himself to be London’s unofficial post-Brexit trade commissioner. Sir Robert Menzies, a sycophantic anglophile, would be so proud of him while Australians can’t wait to vote him out of office.
Anti-China lobby erupts
Barely a week ago, Australia’s anti-China lobby was warning Australians that the dreaded Chinese had built a military base on the Pacific island of Vanuatu off the Queensland coast.
The underlying message was clear: Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra were future targets of China’s next generation of surface-to-surface missiles. It was frightening stuff.
But in Port Vila, Dan McGarry, media director of the Vanuatu Daily Post and Buzz FM 96, was so deeply unimpressed he delivered a scalding rebuke to the Australian media for its anti-China beat-up.
In a front-page article, “Want to Lead in the Pacific? Try listening first”, McGarry deplored the Australian media’s coverage which had “pointedly and repeatedly” ignored the views of Vanuatans.
“The Chinese bases folderol is just the latest chorus in a litany of Australian indifference to Pacific voices,” McGarry wrote. “Every time some tendentious prat opens their mouth and opens their mouth and starts telling the Pacific that what’s good for Australians is obviously good for us, the entire region sighs. That jolt you just felt was a collective eye roll that nearly tipped the island.
“Can we get something clear? If you want us to listen to you, you’ve got to listen to us.”
McGarry continued: “The main difference between Beijing and Canberra is that Beijing listens. And more often than not, Australians pollies wait patiently for Pacific islanders to finish speaking, then tell them what they need.
“There is a pervasive and deeply pernicious perception in the foreign policy establishment that Pacific voices don’t count. The image is so absurdly parochial it borders on outright racism.”
Australia’s “beat up” of China building a military base on Vanuata has been flatly rejected by the country Prime Minister Charlot Salwai who said he had never heard he suggestion in 27 years as an MP and political adviser and by the country’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu.
It’s a pity Australia doesn’t have a prime minister like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern who said: “I’m very openly expressing now, and would do either privately or publicly, that we take a strong position in the Pacific against militarisation.”
Oops, Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, the US ambassador in Canberra, Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Marise Payne are planning something quite different …
The Campbells are coming
Head for the hills! Australia’s new Chief of Defence Forces is Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, a right-wing Liberal whose career mission is to serve his political masters.
On a salary of $800,000-a-year, twice as much as the prime minister, Campbell is the highest paid war chief in the Western world.
For example, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, received $245,000 while Britain’s head of armed forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, trousered a handy $475,000.
Campbell’s elevation to the top job in Canberra is purely political. Former Liberal prime minister John Howard selected him to command the 2nd Battalion RAR in 2001; former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott brought him into his Prime Minister and Cabinet Office in 2005 and then named him assistant national security adviser.
In 2013 Campbell was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general [on what basis?] and put in charge of the Abbott-Scott Morrison “stop the boats” campaign known as Operation Sovereign Borders; in 2015, Abbott selected him as chief of the army in place of David Morrison who won acclaim for championing equal rights and condemning sex abuse in the armed forces; now Liberal Prime Minister Turnbull has gifted him the ultimate accolade – services chief in charge of a $34 billion budget and 60,000 “action-ready” military personnel.
His promotion has been welcomed by all the usual [reactionary] suspects in Canberra: retired service chiefs, RSL loudmouths, think tankers, lickspittles from the mainstream media and conservative misfits in Federal Parliament, particularly the Senate.
Scary, isn’t it?
Plea for public libraries
It is electioneering time again in NSW and promises to voters are coming thick and fast. The election is not due until March 2019, less than a year away, but Labor has already announced that if elected it will double state funding to public libraries. Edmond Atalla, Labor MP for Mount Druitt, supports the plan enthusiastically as does his predecessor in the Western Sydney seat, Richard Amery, a noted bibliophile.
In 1980 (at the time of Premier Neville Wran’s Labor Government) the state contribution to public libraries was 23.6% of its overall funding. By 2017 the government contribution had been slashed to just 7%.
The drastic cut occurred during the “neo-con” agenda of the Carr, Iemma, Keneally and Baird governments when Treasury was in the hands of Michael Egan, Michael Costa, Eric Roozendaal, Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian.
Labor’s commitment to double the size of public funding, if elected, will bring it to 14%, well below the 23.6% of the Wran era. Avid Labor supporters are saying, “Well, it’s a start”, and it’s difficult to argue with that. But great damage has been done and it’s difficult to see the Treasury morons regarding libraries, books, literacy and education with the same passion that they have for building roads and selling off Crown land to the developers.
I’ll remain sceptical until Labor regains office and I see public libraries all over NSW receive their Treasury cheque to employ more staff, buy more books and improve facilities.
At the Local Government and Shires Association annual conference in Sydney on December 4-6, Councillor Romola Hollywood, a Blue Mountains City councillor, will advocate a strategic partnership between the LGSA and the Public Libraries Association to campaign for increased funding.
Cr Hollywood, who is also a vice president of the Public Libraries Association, faces an uphill battle. Liberal and National councillors are aiming to use December’s local government conference as a platform for vote-catching and not for making demands on the ruling Coalition government.
Bob Walshe: Man of Principle
In this edition of The Weekly Notebook, I am breaking a promise it made last year not to turn my weekly musings into one long obituary.
However, I make no apologies for writing about Bob Walshe who died last month after a lifetime as a teacher, mentor, historian and activist.
In 1954 he led the 100th anniversary celebrations in NSW for the Eureka Stockade when goldminers revolted against a Melbourne colonial government decision to increase the miner’s tax. At the time he was an honours post-graduate student at Sydney University studying the 1850s goldrush and its part in forming the national character.
He helped to keep the Eureka spirit alive by organising annual dinners for staunch republicans, socialists and trade unionists.
In 1956 he joined Jim Staples and other socialist-minded students to pedal around Sydney on their bicycles distributing copies of Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” to the 20th Congress of the CPSU in Moscow.
They delivered the speech to Communist Party members hoping to persuade them to take up the fight against Stalinism inside and outside the CPA and strengthen the founding socialist objectives of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.
After suffering a stroke in 2008, Bob’s response was to work with Sutherland Shire Council to circulate useful tips to stroke victims on how to overcome the debilitating effects. In 2010 the council named him Shire Citizen of the Year, becoming the only person to win it twice: he won the same award in 1995 for his work on the environment.
His message to the elderly was clear: “A quarter of the shire’s population are over 65. Reason to rejoice! Also reason to make sure that our added years are not marked by ill-health or timid senility but, always, by confident activity in family and community life.”
Way to go, Bob. Thanks.
Quote of the Week
Sentencing Melina Roberge, 24, to four years’ jail for smuggling 24kg of pure cocaine worth $21.5 million aboard the luxury liner Sea Princess, NSW Judge Kate Traill said:
“This is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in our society who seem to get self worth by ‘likes’ on Instagram which can make them a marketable commodity. It is sad they seek to obtain such a vacuous existence where how many ‘likes’ they receive is their currency. She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.”