The Weekly Notebook returns

Scomo takes Australia to war

Pastor Scott Morrison has committed Australia to war in the Middle East. He has sent Australian warships, aircraft and special forces half way round the world to the Straits of Hormuz to “protect international trade” and the “freedom of shipping”.

Morrison has joined the US war party against Iran. Ignoring the colossal loss of life during the US-led invasion and occupation of Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia’s Prime Monster [sic] has barged into the Middle East (again) to commit terrible war crimes on Iranian citizens with whom we are at peace and have no argument.

He took the decision without reference to parliament and in arrogant opposition to public opinion. He wants to earn brownie points from the Trump White House in its ever-deepening trade war. Will it buy special treatment for Australian exporters and importers because of Australia’s much mythologised “special relationship” with Washington?

No. There will no winners if global trade war breaks out between America and its Western and Eastern rivals. There will only be losers. Historically, trade war is a prelude to a shooting war but everyone is evading a discussion on this lesson from history.

Writer George Orwell could have been describing Pastor Morrison when he wrote 60 years ago:

“Having picked his side [the US], he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him. Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty, but he is also – since he is conscious of serving something bigger than himself – unshakeably certain of being in the right.”

Morrison’s arrogant nationalism borders on fanaticism because it is fuelled by his strict observance of the American brand of Pentecostalism. His is a firebrand evangelical faith which applauds wealth and shares the Masonic tradition of helping the business ambitions of fellow members. More notoriously its members are known as “happy-clappers” who speak in “tongues” during the ecstasy of their worship.

The Morrison family at his swearing in as PM

Going to war fits into the Pastor’s primary agenda – political survival. His lifetime ambition has been to occupy The Lodge and he isn’t going to give it up easily. It has become his personal Alamo just as No 10 Downing Street is Boris Johnson’s and the White House has become Donald Trump’s. At his swearing-in ceremony he carried the Old Testament and was accompanied by his wife and two daughters dressed all in white. A stiff-necked official audibly remarked, “OMG, the Amish have taken over.”

European members of NATO such as Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain have ridiculed the Gulf of Hormuz provocation and publicly stated they have no intention of joining the war party. Many see it as a stunt organised by Washington’s militarists to prepare for the next step – putting a US-led task force into the South China Sea to “protect international trade” and the “freedom of shipping”.

Will Pastor Morrison follow the US into a China catastrophe as well? Coalition politicians, the Murdoch media, the pro-American spy agencies and pro-imperialist “think” tanks like the Lowy Institute, Sydney University’s Asian Studies Centre, the Institute of Public Affairs, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Sydney Institute, are all on heat, urging military confrontation with China.

But none of their leading lights will be volunteering for military service in any confrontation with China or Iran and they won’t be packing off their children or grandchildren to either war zone. If anything, the current belligerence is all about getting the unemployed into uniform and sent abroad because they belong to a rebellious generation of no fixed loyalties.

The Hormuz deception

When Iranian authorities seized the oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz the US and UK media began to howl about “piracy”. They claimed that “war crimes” had been committed and the “hijackers” should be arraigned before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The lurid reports were recycled in the Australian media without a skerrick of fact-checking.

Pastor Morrison’s Coalition seized on the reports to commit a joint task force to the Strait of Hormuz, the sea-lane used for trading purposes for centuries by Iran, previously known as Persia.

How many service personnel have been ordered into the officially designated war zone? Typically, Pastor Morrison won’t say. However, in private briefings to trusted Canberra hacks, the top brass says that there are about 2,000 men and women in the Australian contingent. I would put the total number around 6,000 when support staff, maintenance crews and medical teams are taken into account.

Slowly but surely some murky facts have started to emerge about the “hi-jacked” tanker. The Stena Impero is a British-flagged ship owned by the Swedish shipping company, Stena Bulk. Sweden has a delinquent history of collaborating with Hitler’s Nazis during World War 2, with Washington’s “rendition” programme during the “war on terror” following 9/11, and staging a secret legal battle to extradite Australian journalist Julian Assange and lock him up for life on “treason” charges.

British oil tanker Stena Impero

Steno Impero was built in the shipyards of the Chinese city of Guangzhou, formerly the British colonial outpost of Canton and headquarters of Chiang kai Shek’s pro-Western Kuomingtan. She was one of 13 ships purchased by family-owned Stena Bulk for its growing fleet of chemical and oil carriers.

The ship is managed by Northern Marine, a UK company based in Clydebank near Glasgow in Scotland. Northern Marine was responsible for managing the ship’s commercial voyage to Iran to collect a cargo of crude oil. It also hired the crew of 23 seamen from India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines.

Previously, an Iranian tanker, named Adrian Darya 1, was seized by warships of Britain’s Royal Navy in international waters of the Mediterranean and taken to the British colony of Gibraltar. The ship’s captain was accused of breaking American sanctions by shipping oil to Syria and the London press demanded his trial, conviction and imprisonment. However, the ship was released two weeks ago and allowed to complete its journey to the Syrian port of Tartus, home of a Russian naval base.

Following behind-the-scenes diplomacy involving London, Tehran, Moscow and shipping companies the confrontation has de-escalated.

Seven members of the 23-member crew of the Stena Impero  have been released while the remainder will be freed when “the fate of the tanker itself is decided”.

The Hormuz provocation required massive operational and financial backing. Security experts say that it was probably hatched a year ago when Trump was planning to dump President Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran.

Should Australia be a party to this international intrigue? Pastor Morrison thinks so because he is full of self-righteousness and he’s on a mission from god. The sooner Australians give his Federal Coalition the old heave-ho, the safer we will be.

Shorten out, Albo in

Rusted-on Labor members have switched their allegiance to Anthony Albanese while Bill Shorten has been unceremoniously dumped. It confirms what we already knew: politics is a heartless, relentless business. It is no place for the faint-hearted.

That said, I believe that we have not heard the last of Shorten. Like “Big Arnie” Schwarzenegger, “He’ll be back.”

Should the ALP trust him with a third Federal Election after he has already lost two? No, probably not but he is still capable of organising the numbers against any of the current rivals. He’s an accomplished numbers man from the AWU, the ACTU and  the Victorian ALP.

Albanese or Shorten: Hobson’s choice

The electorate’s view of Albanese is that he is a dud. He is a poor communicator without intelligence or charisma. The latest Newspoll shows that he is now falling in popularity. This week his approval rating dropped into negative territory for the first time since becoming Labor leader.

It begs the question: how can he possibly be less popular than the appalling Morrison? Think about it.

Since becoming Labor leader Albanese has shifted unconvincingly from the “hard left” to the “centre left”. Essentially it is the same old Albo talking “left” one minute and “right” the next.

Having spent decades describing the trifecta of his personal philosophy was the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the Roman Catholic church and the Labor Party, he has dropped Catholicism.

His decision came in an obscure interview and not from the leader’s office after his longtime friend, Cardinal George Pell, was convicted of historic child sex offences and sent to jail. I reckon that someone who can drop his religious views to pander to public opinion, is not to be trusted. I have always preferred martyrs to suck-holes.

I was utterly gobsmacked when Albanese said he was “surprised” by the campaign donations corruption exposed at hearings of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

Is it not a fact that Albanese spent 20 years working at NSW ALP headquarters in Sussex Street where campaign donation scams are conducted in brown paper bags?

Is it not a fact that Sussex Street factions organised Albanese’s shift to the House of Reps?

Is it not a fact that Albanese replaced a female MP, Jeannette McHugh, after grandstanding speeches for more Labor women in parliament?

Is it not a fact that since taking charge of the “hard left” faction in Canberra Albanese has raised the pre-eminence of Sussex Street so that its culture came to rule the ALP nationwide?

It beggars belief that Albanese was unaware of the donations scandals now being highlighted at the ICAC. A real leader would seize the opportunity to clean up the corruption and set Labor on a new course of transparency and accountability. Where was Albanese? Nowhere to be seen and making windy, unbelievable alibis. “This behaviour is completely unacceptable to me, and I find it quite shocking the revelations that have been made before the ICAC this week,” he said airily.

The dogs have been barking about Sussex Street corruption – and donations scandals at the top of the Liberal Party – for decades but Albanese didn’t hear them.

Question: Can a party leader who is in total denial of chronic corruption within his own party inspire its membership and others to an election victory?

Answer: No.

Furthermore, I wish Albanese would stop uttering the mindless mantra that his job is to make Morrison carry out his election mandate.

It may be one of his leadership functions but the primary objective is to drive the Coalition out of office and the sooner the better. Instead of fighting the ultra-conservative Liberals and Nationals, he is stroking them with parliamentary grandstanding and then supporting their anti-democratic legislation which trashes civil liberties, boosts the military by billions of dollars, ruins the environment for generations (think Adani open cut mine,  Murray Darling basin, Barrier Reef etc) and shifts Australian defence, diplomacy and economic future into the arms of Washington’s gangster corporations, ie “Big Pharma”, energy giants, the NRA, Wall Street and the powerbrokers of Silicon Valley).

Think Albo and goose comes to mind. Think Scomo and it’s super goose.

Sanity in Nimbin? Not really

With leaders of the Western world behaving crazily, it is natural to turn to the pages of the weekly Nimbin Good Times for some words of sanity from the voice of the oldest “hippy” newspaper in Australia. No such luck: the alternative life-stylers and drop-outs of northern NSW are off the rails too.

Auralia Rose: high in Nimbin

I picked up a copy only to be disappointed by a piece entitled “Three generations of new souls” by Auralia Rose.

She wrote: “It is not uncommon during a past life regression for a person to discover this is there first time here on earth.”

She went to reveal that since World War 2 there have been “three distinct waves” of volunteers who have come back to earth to “assist” the post-war reconstruction of Western society.

After atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the call went out to volunteers, “Earth is in trouble – who wants to volunteer?”

Auralia said that the first group of volunteers, baby boomers now in their 60s and 70s, were “greatly disturbed” by earth’s violence, anger and hate and wanted to return “home” or commit suicide to escape life on earth.

Her second and third wave of volunteers are now in place tending “to work behind the scenes creating little or no karma”.

She chastised many first and second wave volunteers for having children because it “locks them into the Earth’s cycle and they do not form long term relationships”.

But hope springs eternal for the third group of 20-year-olds are “exceptional” and “very loving”. Sadly, “many are diagnosed with ADHD and are medicated”.

At this point I stopped reading her OpEd piece and began to wonder whether Auralia was being medicated as well.

Who said this?

“I am a raving Euro-Federalist. A pro-European of the most violent, dyspeptic and incurable disposition.”

  • Life in the Fast Lane by Boris Johnson published in 1999












  1. Welcome back! But I think the order of oil tanker hijacks was the other way round.

    The Brits stopped the (then) ‘Grace 1’ at Gibraltar as it was believed to be breaking the (US) embargo on Iranian oil going to Syria. The UK’s special services soldiers were ‘enforcing EU policy’ (though the UK should have been out of the EU by now!) On being assured by Iran the oil was not destinationed for Syria the tanker was released.

    Meanwhile, the IRG hijacked the Stena UK-flagged tanker from under the nose of the Royal Navy in the straits of Hormuz. It is still in custody. The re-named ‘Grace 1’ is as you say now anchored in a Syrian port.

  2. Not much to disagree with here – as always – Alex. Thanks – and I love the “Pastor” Morrison appellation – having grown up myself out of a fundamentalist sect – if not happy-clapper/glossalia nonsense/blessed of God by wealth bullshit! Bad enough though in its “we-are-the-chosen-ones” kind of message!

  3. Great that you are back and displaying a smorgasbord of characteristic insightful, pithy analyses. Pastor Morrison’s Christianity is a cultural con trick, Albo seems equipped only to come on for Souths in the last minute of a game and as a result of your revelations I have cancelled my subscription to the Nimbin Good Times.

  4. Welcome back Alex. Was at Coffs protest rally and march last Friday with 1400 protesters a good beginning. Would like to catch up with you.

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