Albo the featherweight

This week’s specials: 1) “Albo” isn’t hacking it; 2) Eddie Jones super rat; 3) NSW Art Gallery shamed by cat scandal; 4) Ali Kazak compares media coverage of Hong Kong and Gaza; 5) New Pommie slogan: Ban the All Blacks haka; 6) Ash Barty, Aboriginal sports heroine; 7) L J Hooker’s shameful window sign

Anthony Albanese: featherweight in heavyweight job

Once again, I’m being assailed by political friends on the grounds that I criticise Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese too harshly. The main thrust of their argument is that “Albo” has the toughest job in Australian politics and he’s making an impressive fist of it.

Just when I was feeling I may not have done justice to Albanese, I read a scholarly piece by climate expert, Associate Professor Peter Christoff of Melbourne University, entitled “Labor’s reset on climate and jobs is a political mirage” (The Conversation, 30 October 2019)

He took Albanese to task for his Perth policy speech too. “As an agenda-setting speech, it is weak on ideas, facts and proposals. It spins on about technology and innovation, a hollow chant reminiscent of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s mantra ‘jobs and growth, jobs and growth’.

“But for all its talk of the need to ‘innovate, adapt and adjust’, the speech is blind to the harder questions of decarbonisation. On this issue, Albanese tried to walk both sides of the highway by wandering down the middle.

Professor Peter Christoff

“Australia is a major domestic producer of greenhouse gas emissions, making it about the world’s 14th biggest emitter. In recent years our domestic emissions have risen, thanks largely to fugitive emissions released as we extracted increasing volumes of coal and natural gas for export.

“Australia is among the world’s largest fossil fuel exporters. These exported fossil fuels are responsible for an estimated 3.6% of the global emissions total. If we add these emissions – for which we are morally responsible and from which we benefit financially – to our domestic pollutant load, this places Australia among the planets worst emitters.”

Rounding on politicians of all stripes, Christoff wrote: “While bickering about domestic emissions targets, neither Labor nor the Coalition have tackled Australia’s parallel carbon economy – our growing exported contribution to global warming. It’s a big, dirty, lucrative, open secret. It involves jobs in marginal seats. It can determine the fate of governments.”

His closing arguments are brutal: “One wonders who his intended audience is. Labor fools no-one by supporting both a clean energy revolution and a business-as-usual future for fossil fuels.

“It’s akin to the party’s evasive and self-harming position on Adani which left workers in regional Queensland feeling patronised, disposable, anxious, hostile and disaffected – and the growing majority of Australians who are deeply concerned about climate change, furious.

“To propose a low-carbon future with continued fossil fuel exports is fakery in the extreme.

“In this vision statement, Labor fails to recognise the need for a concerted, innovative national programme.”

Christoff’s arguments and conclusions are complex, but he is certainly right about Albanese’s brazen attempt to walk both sides of the climate change debate: oppose fossil fuel in theory but in practice support coal mining, coal exploration, coal-fired power stations and coal exports.

Eddie Jones enters Super Rat Hall of Infamy

I’ve long suspected that Eddie Jones, the former rugby coach of Randwick, is a Labor Party supporter. Now I’m sure of it.

He is following one of great unspoken traditions of the ALP by ratting and then re-ratting. If he hangs in there, Tasmanian-born Jones can then expect an Order of Australia (OA) or something similar.

Eddie Jones: looking for a way back

Jones, no relation to Alan “Pick’n’Stick” Jones, first ratted when he became the first Australian to coach the England and Wales rugby side. He re-ratted when he signed up for another two years. And he could re-re-rat if he applies to return to Australia to take up the Wallabies coaching job for the second time.

Jones’s record is not good. He has coached two  teams for the World Cup – the Australian Wallabies in 2003 and England in 2019.  Both sides lost.

This should not hinder his climb to celebrity status. Ratting never stopped Federal Labor Cabinet Ministers Marvin Ferson, aka Martin Ferguson, or John “Joe” Dawkins, from achieving glorious honours from the ALP. They did so many favours for so many people that they were guaranteed a carefree retirement working for the capitalist class.

Eddie Jones is climbing the same greasy pole. He is writing a book on the 2019 World Cup and he will star in documentary film of England’s failed bid.

All this is designed to create a narrative of an emotionally tortured Tasmanian and his struggle for racial acceptance and sporting glory. The boys and girls from privileged private schools might buy this bunkum, but I won’t. If you rat once, you deserve another chance. But for a repeat offender like Eddie Jones, it’s time he grew up and took responsibility for his actions.

I admit that I once supported the likeable Eddie Jones and the concept of “the World Game that’s made in heaven” with Pavarotti singing Nessum Dorma in the background. But ever-smiling Eddie never told us that he would end up in the England box cheering England alongside Prince Harry and a mob of right-wing Brexit Tories. The late Sir Nick Shehadie, a former Wallabies captain from Redfern, would be sickened by Eddie’s story line. Can anyone imagine him agreeing to coach the Poms or any other overseas team?

NSW Art Gallery shamed by cat debacle

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami has inadvertently made a laughing stock of the management of the Art Gallery of NSW and its apologists.

Murakami, a futurist cartoonist trapped in a world of comic book fantasia, has trousered more than $1 million for a monster silk screen of a cat, seemingly on a mix of LSD, steroids and ice.

The artist himself has called the work a “stupid thing”. Others disagree. Gallery management, the Art Gallery Society, the Board of Trustees headed by ANZ chair and tax lawyer David Gonski and various philistines in the NSW Government refer to it as “a masterpiece” and compare it with Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles bought by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973 for the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra.

Takashi Murakami: jumping for joy at the AGNSW

The headline-grabbing Murakami has confessed in a Guardian interview with Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore that his 10-metre long “masterpiece” of a giant cat was executed by his “army of assistants”, about 350 of them, working night and day in a studio outside Tokyo.

The work’s lengthy title should have given the game away, but it didn’t. It is entitled: “Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I found myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters – Japanese folklore demons or yokai battle with samurai, bound together by the spirit of an oversized feline.”

On the opening day at the Art Gallery of NSW, aka the House of Many Horrors, he told a ring-in audience: “You find me, commission me, bring me here and question me. I make you a stupid cat painting. In my head [it] is a stupid, stupid thing.”

It is not his stupidest work. Not by far. That dubious honour goes to his 2008 sculpture My Lonesome Cowboy. It depicted a blonde-haired boy masturbating and sending a lasso of semen into the air. It sold for US$15.2 million. So who’s crazy?

Murakami told his AGNSW audience: “Very strange sexuality came from Japan – plus a fear of sexuality in American culture. In my head [it] is a very stupid idea. That’s why I say [I’m] very lucky.”

Unlike many artists who shun the world of private finance and commercialism, Murakami wallows in it. He chases celebrities and big-name fashion houses. The Guardian noted: “His long-standing collaboration with Louis Vuitton has been lucrative. In 2008, in a brazen ‘up yours’ to the elites – who scorn the mixing of merchandise with high art – Murakami featured a fully operating Louis Vuitton boutique as part of his artwork at the Brooklyn Museum.”

Murakami is laughing all the way to the bank with $1 million-plus while AGNSW luvvies are guzzling champagne and travelling first class, and long-suffering staff are doing two and three jobs with no paid overtime and facing another wave of cutbacks and “economies”.

In the past, AGNSW supporters used to travel from all over Australia and internationally to bathe in its curatorial excellence. Regrettably, visitors are staying away in droves from Dr Michael Brand’s cat show. By the way, no one should believe the gallery’s own attendance figures. There’s no accountability for how they’re arrived at. This is another reason why the ICAC, the Auditor-General or parliament’s Public Accounts Committee should be taking an interest in the art gallery’s affairs.

Master critic pans Master-bator

John McDonald, Australia’s leading art critic, has delivered a bruising judgment on Murakami’s “Meow” show. In the latest edition of his learned blog, McDonald wrote:

“As for Murakami’s much-hyped contribution, the new work acquired by the AGNSW for an undisclosed, multi-million-dollar sum, is big but not beautiful. It arrived too late to be included in the catalogue but is prominently displayed in a separate room, flanked by two free-standing figurines. At 10 metres by 3 metres it’s actually dwarfed by another Murakami work, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (2014), borrowed from the Broad Foundation of Los Angeles, which measures 25 metres by 3 metres.

John McDonald, art critic

“If the sheer scale of these paintings seems astonishing, one needs to remember that Murakami runs an art factory with more than 300 employees. It’s patently absurd to compare the AGNSW’s new acquisition to Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles (1952) as a “destination work”. Pollock’s painting is the work of a single artist that has established a lasting niche in modern art history. Its purchase for the National Gallery of Australia was an act of conviction and courage on behalf of then-director, James Mollison.

“By contrast, the Murakami painting is a mash-up of images drawn from Ukiyo-e prints, produced by assistants according to the artist’s design. It’s no special achievement to buy a large picture at the top of the market by one of the world’s most fashionable and expensive artists. This will never be a work of historical importance: it’s a crude, flashy commodity, a piece of public entertainment.

“Compared to the small images of the Ukiyo-e printmakers, Murakami’s vast pictures look incredibly superficial – which is hardly surprising for the artist who coined the term ‘superflat’. It suggests that with Japanese art size does matter, with bigger not necessarily being better.”

Thank goodness Australia has an art critic who doesn’t simply reprint gallery press releases and who passes independent judgment.

Hong Kong and Gaza: media dance to different tune

By Ali Kazak* – This item is reproduced with the author’s permission

Compare the ABC’s and SBS’s coverage of the pro-democracy marches in Hong Kong and the “Marches of Return” in Gaza.

Gazans have been marching every Friday for the last 80 weeks since 30 March 2018, for the lifting of  a 13-year Israeli siege which has turned Gaza into a concentration camp, and for the right of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees to return back to their towns and properties stolen from them in 1948.

In Hong Kong, pro-democracy citizens have been marching for the last 21 weeks against the introduction of the “Fugitive Offenders amendment bill” and for democracy.

Gaza: children killed by Israeli forces

In Gaza, Israeli troops have killed during this period 214 demonstrators including 46 children, 2 women, 9 disabled people, 2 journalists and 4 paramedics, and wounded 18,764 according to Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights.

While in Hong Kong, about 2000 have reportedly been injured and not one death recorded, even though the protests have been much more violent than the ones in Gaza in terms of the disruption to public life and commerce, setting fires, hurling petrol bombs, attacking and  injuring a large number of police, attacking banks, shops and public facilities, blocking roads, shutting down and destroying the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system and the international airport.

The ABC and SBS in particular, and the media in general, are defending and supporting the demands of Hong Kong protesters and we are bombarded by radio and television news bulletins and current affairs programs’ with extensive coverage of the marches, interviews with demonstrators, pro-demonstrators commentators and politicians who were questioned on their stand and asked what action they are going to take against China.

When a demonstrator was wounded in the chest and another in the eye an uproar broke out. We were given the names of the wounded, their age and every personal detail.

On the other hand, and in spite of enormous Israeli crimes which amount to war crimes, the ABC and SBS have hardly covered the Palestinian marchers’ just demands for freedom and the right of return, let alone interviewed politicians on their stand and asked what actions they are going to take against Israel violations and crime.

Occasionally, when they do, the report is covered from behind Israeli troops, careful terminology measured to free Israel from any responsibility of its crimes, Israel’s allegations are always reported as facts, Israelis or pro-Israelis are interviewed and hardly any Palestinians.

Ali Kazak

The contrasting coverage of the marches in Palestine and Hong Kong reveal the pro-Israeli and anti-Chinese coverage of the ABC and SBS, the unwritten guidelines they have to adhere to and the politicisation of public media in the service of conservative right-wing politics, while claiming to be independent, for all Australians, impartial “according to the recognised standards of objective journalism” and fair.

Democracy, human rights and respect of international conventions are nothing but instruments the media, Australian politicians, and the West claim to support when they serve right-wing Western interests.

Anyone who follows the ABC and SBS will realise the conservatives and right-wingers have succeeded in their attack tactics against publicly funded media to toe an even more conservative line.

Media hypocrisy, double-standard and bias are also evident in the coverage of the so-called “Chinese lobby”.

There is nothing ASIO and the media suggest any Chinese lobby of doing that the Israeli lobby has not done for over 30 years on behalf of the Israeli government. Any Chinese lobby is child’s play in contrast to the well-established Israeli lobby.

No country has more interfered, spied and forged Australian passports, recruited Australians into its army and spy agencies and endangered Australia’s security, sovereignty and the integrity of its national institutions than Israel.

By its own admission, the Israeli lobby receives funds from Israeli institutions, coordinates and cooperates with the Israeli government and embassy, and has ‘established a long tradition of strong public advocacy on behalf of Israel‘ to shape the opinion of members of the Australian public, media organisations and government officials in order to advance Israel’s own political objectives.

Consecutive Liberal and Labor governments have been selling Australia’s foreign policy to Israel for decades, with huge campaign donations and all-expenses-paid trips for MPs, officials, staffers, union officials and media personnel.

Yet, while the media has been bombarding us with scare campaigns against China, we hardly see any reference to the danger of the Israeli lobby.

Imagine how Australia would react if China forged Australian passports and used them to spy on other countries and carry out assassinations in friendly countries.

Imagine the media hysteria that would follow if China assassinated leaders of the Hong Kong protest with drones and sniper troops killed 214 demonstrators including 46 children, disabled, journalists and paramedics?

So why do Australian media and politicians let Israel get away with murder while scrutinising China?

*Ali Kazak is a former Palestinian ambassador and head of delegation to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region.

Haka ban! Are they serious?   

The All Blacks performing the haka

London Times columnist Stephen Jones has called for a ban on the All Blacks haka before Test matches because it is a “means of rank bullying”.

Jones continued: “The haka has long been partly bonkers. It is now interminable; it takes up ages with the other team freezing.”

Alternatively, the England and Wales Rugby team could adopt its own “haka” with the team performing a Morris Dance while singing “God Save the Queen” or Dame Vera Lynn’s classic “The White Cliffs of Dover”.

Internet trolls who have never played or watched a game of rugby have joined the chorus calling for a haka ban. Australian rugby writers are silent; they’re waiting to hear from the PR people at Rugby Australia.

Sports Quote of the Year

Ash Barty, world No.1 and proud Aboriginal woman

Give me a week at home [Ipswich] with a few beers on the couch where I can kind of relive what has happened in 2019. It’s just been a crazy year, it really has.

–   Ashley Barty after winning the World Tennis Association final in China, claiming the all-time record $6.4 purse and the No 1 world ranking. She is the first Australian to win the WTA championship since her idol Evonne Goolagong in 1976. Most Australian media declined to mention Ash is a proud Aboriginal woman. Her father, Robert Barty, is an indigenous Australian from the Ngarigo tribe. Nor did the media mention that she won her WTA title in China because it contradicted the furious anti-China venom of their Hong Kong coverage. No one dared to accuse her of being “an agent of influence” of the Chinese “Reds”, not even Matt Bevan or Bill Birtles of ABC Radio National who have a nose for these things.

Sign of the Year

Landlord’s [sic]
get rich $ $ $
in their
sleep  z z z
  • Window sign in L.J. Hooker branch office in Coolangatta’s main street, Gold Coast. I wish that I could add: “Only tax evading- bludgers, drug dealers and bikie gangsters need apply”.

Rupert Murdoch’s UK election call

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