The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

How to defeat Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer will speak at the Sydney Writers Festival tonight. Here’s a handy tip for those reactionary commentators, bloggers and letter-writers: anything she has to say about Australia is automatically dismissible and lacking in all credibility because she doesn’t actually live here. QED.

Oh, and she also likes younger men! Take that Germaine!

Filed under: Australian values, History, Humour, Media, Politics

We fight for Afghans, but God help them if they turn up here illegally!

Logisitical nightmare: The Navy is assisting in the transfer of casualities.

'Logisitical nightmare': The Navy is assisting in the transfer of casualities.

One of my favourite conservative bloggers is arguing that “Illegal migration demands surge with Rudd Government policy failure.” The Howardian approach to asylum seekers – ‘the boat people’ – was to subvert the claim to asylum by determining that arrival here without proper authority is a criminal act. Additional deterrence was offered through prolonged incarceration and the odd dubious repatriation. It is not illegal, however, to seek asylum.

Whether or not the Afghans are seeking permanent resident status, as Harry claims, they are first and foremost exercising their human right to seek political asylum. Are conservatives saying that breaking an immigration law cancels out any legitimate claim to asylum? That to seek asylum in Australia is illegal unless the proper paperwork is done first?

What would Harry do with these people? Suggest they form an orderly queue at the Australian Embassy in Kabul and submit paperwork seeking asylum?? Lock them up for five years once they get here for breaking our immigration laws and then pay the cost of mental illness and social dysfunction resulting therefrom?

We have a tough immigration regime, as Harry is tacitly acknowledging, so where is the evidence for a softening, such as it will encourage asylum seekers? People on whose behalf we are fighting a war risk everything – property, family, imprisonment – to get to Australia, undertaking a tortuous and clandestine journey across Asia to finally sail in a leaky boat to Ashmore reef. I’d suggest we have to seriously consider that they are in fact refugees seeking political asylum! Hell, people with such grit and determination should at least be given a chance to put their case. And if their cause is genuine, then let them add to our common wealth. I’m sure they’ll do well, just like the rest of us immigrants have.

Tell us Harry. How would you make it tougher? How would you deal with the current wave of asylum seekers? How would you turn all this around? Or how would Malcolm Turnbull, for that matter. The ‘get tough’ message might have worked a treat for Howard, but these are different times. I suspect the masses recognise the moral hypocrisy of fighting and dying in a war for Iraqis/Afghans and then branding as criminals of suspect character those Iraqi/Afghan refugees who have the temerity to risk everything, including life itself, to turn up on our doorstep seeking shelter and compassion.

Filed under: Australian values, Howardians, Iraq, Law, Politics

Makes you proud to be Ostrayun

Herald SunIs it just me, or did Howard, Jones and Hanson so completely exploit the Australian Flag for their xenophobic agenda that I can’t see it flying from people’s cars, houses and campsites without thinking of Coalition-voting white supremacists?

At least The Hun took a break from its run of aren’t-you-glad-you’re-an-Aussie-and-not-a-Muzzie stories this week and gave space to Ron ‘Hero’ Barassi’s call to move Australia Day to May to commemorate the date when Aborigines were given equal citizen rights.

Oi! Oi! Whatever.

Filed under: Australian values, Howardians,

The true spirit of the Olympics

AOCAOC President John Coates says our Olympic Athletes “have an obligation to not only attend world championships and Olympics, but they have an obligation to win.” The Olympics are for winning, not just taking part.

“I think our sports are in need of a significant boost of funds,” he said.

“We haven’t had a big boost since the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics.

“This is a good opportunity for Australia and our politicians to realise the significance of international sport and how important it is to other countries and, again, how important it is to the psyche of the average Australian. I think our community likes to see Australia do well at an Olympics.”

And here we were thinking that the athletes and their families who struggle and sacrifice for years on end were just doing it for the sight-seeing.

At least Coates is refreshingly honest. Just don’t mention it to the legions of school children who will be watching and studying the Olympics over the coming weeks and learning about the Olympic ideals.

  • upholding ethics in sports
  • encouraging participation in sports
  • encouraging and supporting the development of sport
  • the Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries

“Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”

Olympic Charter, Fundamental Principles, paragraph 1

Filed under: Australian values, , ,

2020 Summit – the real story

The 2020 Summit is upon us as 1000 of the ‘best and brightest’ gather in Canberra to brainstorm a vision for Australia in 2020. It has been the subject of much hysterical cynicism from the MSM — always looking for an angle and invariably missing the story — the same tired old hacks who spent all of 2007 opining that Howard was unbeatable and that Rudd would never win.

The real story was that the electorate wanted a different style and direction of government and Howard wasn’t it. There are too many issues facing Australian society that Howard simply ignored or treated with cynical tokenism — issues that the invisible hand of the market couldn’t fix.

The conservatives and much of the MSM are still in denial. In 30 months time, the electorate will realise how shallow and ineffectual Rudd really is and then they’ll coming running back for a real government and business as usual. Yeah, right.

You’d expect it from a dolt like Bolt and his ‘1000 of Rudd’s Mates’, but Misha Schubert in The Age today shows us how clever she is with her ‘scoop’ accusing Rudd of stealing his childcare vision from Tony Blair and calling it his own in Rudd’s 2020 hindsight.

So fvcking what?! He wasn’t claiming it as his Own Original Idea. More pertinently, is it a good idea, or not? Worthy of discussion or what? Pathetic. I’m not aware of a proviso that any ideas being brought to the Summit must be entirely original. I’m sure any 2020 participant asked what their idea for the Summit is would begin, “Well, my idea is …” How many truly original ideas do any of us have? It’s so not the point. But it makes for a ‘clever’ story. The MSM commentariat are willing the 2020 Summit to fail and are busily positioning themselves to say ‘I told you so’.

What the hell is wrong with having a workshop for the vision of the whole nation? You can’t have ideas unless they’re already implemented? Give us a break. You have to start somewhere. Every corporate and government entity in Australia has been doing this very kind of thing for decades. ‘Where do you see this company/department in 5 years time, 10 years time?’ ‘What are the obstacles that might prevent this from happening.’ ‘What are the opportunities?’ ‘What would need to happen/change?’ Standard strategic planning stuff – mission statement, objectives, priorities. It works. So why not for a nation? We don’t elect a government of experts. We elect a government to represent us. And this one, by having a ‘talkfest’, is willing to listen. This doesn’t sit easily with authoritarian Howardians. It’s much more Australian to be a knocker and suspicious of anyone who might be an intellectual or has differing ideas. Fancy having the gall to speak Mandarin to the Chinese! He must be up himself.

The dogs may bark and the cynics carp, but the 2020 Summit will be productive, if for no other reason than it is tapping the electorate’s desire for a narrative. A narrative that isn’t about narrow self-interest and fear — a narrative for a better, more inclusive future.

His detractors underestimate Rudd — they always have. In these early days, all evidence indicates that he is hard-working and ruthlessy efficient and methodical, so there is little reason to doubt that he will also be quietly very effective. Sure, there will be policy and political failures along the way, but have no doubt that Rudd will inexorably reshape Australia towards the narrative visions given voice by the 2020 Summit. That’s what the concervatives are really worried about. If Rudd is even partially successful in making progress toward that vision, the conservatives will still not be electable by 2020. They think they do, but they just don’t get it.

Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, Howardians, Media, Politics, Society, ,

A mind is a terrible thing to waste

Professor Peter Doherty asks in The University of Melbourne Voice “What sense does it make to pour federal money selectively into minority, private (and often exclusionary) primary and secondary schools while starving the majority public sector?” The short answer? None.

The Howard government embraced Thatcher’s ‘greed is good‘ free market theology which played to the heart of the human tendency to regard our relative wealth and privilege in comparison to those less well off. After all, one is ultimately able to feel rich and privileged if it’s obvious that so many others are poor and unprivileged.

What is the point of driving a BMW if everyone has one?

Filed under: Australian values, Education, Media, ,

Of Faith, Hope and Charity

The Oasis: Australia’s Homeless Youth, a heart-rending documentary on homelessness filmed over two years in the life of Salvation Army Captain Paul Moulds as he helps a myriad of broken people. People whose spirits have been crushed by neglect, abandonment, and abuse. People dependent on alcohol and drugs to numb the pain as close to death as you be without being dead.

Captain Moulds, himself abandoned at birth, is a man with a deep faith in the humanity of man. Through his steadfast charity in all his actions he has delivered hope for a better, brighter future to countless young human beings. Faith, hope and charity — the ideal virtues of Christianity, and indeed of all religions.

Perhaps not quite so in the free market place. The homeless are a product of ourselves and the society we create. They are not the ‘other’. They are us. What we do unto them we do unto ourselves.

When Paul gives $30 to one girl from his own pocket, fellow soldier Ken complained that they never give even 20c back to the Salvos. That’s why they never have any money. You have to give as well as receive. The economically rational approach to this problem is for us to give the necessary resources to begin changing the conditions which give rise to the problem. But it will take faith, hope and charity, not consumerism, cynicism, and greed. And we need to do it right.

Congratulations to Kevin Rudd for having the courage to raise the issue again and commissioning some up to date analysis indicating the extent of the problem — a problem neglected and ignored during the Howardian years in pursuit of healthy budget surpluses to spend on handouts come election time.

We have enough information about what works. Now we need sustained public investment rolled out over the next ten years to turn this around. It’ll actually be good for the common wealth and well-being of our nation.

Filed under: Australian values, Howardians, Ideology, Media, Politics, Society, ,

Pilot shortage – the product of free markets

ABC Online“Australia is suffering from a pilot shortage causing the suspension of services around the country. The global demand for pilots is high and many Australian trained pilots are being lured overseas.” The 7.30 Report

Australia once had an abundant supply of the mostly highly trained and highly paid pilots in the world. We also once had a pilot’s union and a more regulated aviation industry.

Well that’s life in the free market for you.

Individual gain at the expense of common good.

Ah, the irony.

Filed under: Australian values, Economics, History, Ideology, Politics

The dogs bark and the caravan moves on

Tandberg - The Age

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s eloquent and moving apology to the Stolen Generations marks a momentous day in Australian history. It was received with overwhelming consensus by the Australian people, drawing a line in the sand after 11 years of stubborn refusal by the Howard government. At Parliament House and around the country were many moving and emotional scenes of relief and gratitude that the moment dreamed of by so many had finally arrived. Kevin Rudd established himself as one who is prepared to show national leadership and extend the hand of bipartisan cooperation.

The only sour note was Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson’s inappropriate litany of sexual abuse offered as some kind of justification for Howard’s ill-considered Intervention, and the intemperate tantrums of some parliamentary hard-liners. Nelson’s speech started out well enough but became confused as he rambled on about fallen diggers , moral high ground and good intentions, presumably playing to the dissident among his own party, and ended up saying words to the effect that we are sorry that some bad things unintentionally happened, but we’re not sorry we did it.

In the blogosphere the usual suspects were yapping and complaining about the indignity and futility of it all, how it was all a sop to the bleeding heart lefty elites. After all, the Stolen Generations is just a myth. By today, the standard no-sorry narrative had become that Sorry will change nothing. They are wrong – if nothing else, the apology has pleased the vast majority of Indigenous Australians who have been calling for this day for more than decade for white Australia to recognise the pain and suffering they have endured. One obstacle has been removed on the path toward a meaningful reconciliation. Anyone with a shred of compassion could not help but be moved by the emotional outpouring witnessed at yesterday’s ceremony.

I’ve seen Archie Roach perform a number of times over the years – most recently at a local event late last year. There was hardly a dry eye in the white audience. Archie’s powerful and heartfelt singing conveys something of the depth of pain the stolen generations have suffered and the profound attachment Indigenous people have for the land, their families and people – something so deeply cultural that the rest of us can at best hope to appreciate and respect it, let alone fully understand.

In Federation Square, singer-songwriter Archie Roach, one of the best-known members of the stolen generations, dedicated his performance to the mother he was separated from, and to his own children. “This brings a new start in life for us, the way it should have been,” he said.

It was a joyous and unique day in Australian history, marking the beginning of a new era in which ordinary Australians no longer have to feel the shame for our government’s unwillingness to acknowledge the harm we have inflicted on successive generations of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. The dogs may bark – the stone-hearted, the curmudgeonly misanthropes who believe only in wealth and personal vanity – but the caravan is well and truly moving on.

But where was John Howard? Watching the proceedings from the comfort of Wollenscroft, wistfully regretting that he didn’t do what Rudd did yesterday? A man so concerned with his legacy can now add the epithet – the man who couldn’t say sorry.

Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, History, Indigenous, Politics

The Culture War is over. Peace in our time?

DysonThe defeat of the Howard Government marks the end of the insidious Culture War, or at least a temporary cessation of hostilities. The Culture War was waged on Howard’s behalf by a compliant media to foster division and fear within Australian society for naked political advantage – divide and conquer.

Howard came to power when the public had grown tired of Keating’s vision thing and the moral high ground of political correctness. Shock Jocks and rednecks were unhappy with the slow creep of legislation outlawing discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender and disability. With the aid of Pauline Hanson and a number of dog-whistles, Howard set out discredit Keating’s political correctness and restore ignorance and bigotry to its rightful place in the heartland of Australia. The Culture War became a new conservative political correctness waged against indigenous Australians, immigrants, Muslims, Greenies, teachers, universities, the media, the ABC, the leftist-luvvie latte elites, and even sought to recreate our own history. The Culture War was an unscrupulous tool of political manipulation, wielded without regard for the damage to social cohesion, and used as a smoke screen for a radical rightwing economic agenda.

The Culture Warriors are an aging generation of 60s and 70s Young Labor and Young Liberal student unionists. The substance and style has changed little since the heady days of Leftist ascendancy as the Right were forced to into moral retreat on Vietnam, gender politics, history and multiculturalism. It is as though the Right under Howard have been reliving the battles of their youth. For the rest of the population it has been as relevant as flared trousers and body shirts.

Howard’s Culture War has corroded our values, our public institutions, and eaten away at the very heart of Westminster democratic tradition. It has undermined the cohesiveness of family and community and respect for the primacy of law in matters of race, religion and liberty. It has eroded mateship and the ‘fair go’ – values professed to be held dearly by John Howard.

The Culture War has poisoned intelligent public debate by demonising genuine intellectual dissent as the mere delusional notions of evil and envious greenies and leftists. Political discourse has been reduced to a 2-bit black and white polemic with no rational regard for the 256 shades of grey of contemporary society. Political discourse must be lifted from the cesspit of the Culture War if we are to respond intelligently to the pressing problems of developing an environmentally sustainable economy sufficient for a civil and prosperous society

My hope for Kevin Rudd is that he is driven by principle rather than ideology. That he will approach public administration rationally rather than ideologically. Fashions in economics change with the ages. It is insufficient to merely assert that economic rationalism is unquestionably good or that public investment by government agency is unquestionably bad. Effective and efficient public administration must be built on the principles of rationality, evidence-based practice, negotiation and pragmatic compromise.

Democracy is our best protection from those whose particular ideology, socio-economic status or beliefs predispose them to believe they better know the national interest than the rest of us. The swinging voters, formally known as Howard’s battlers, are courted and exploited by political parties even though they are secretly reviled for their lack of conviction by the political classes. Yet they are the great Australian Democratic Bullshit Detector. They protect us from the excesses of extremists. If a government becomes out of touch with common sentiment they are unceremoniously dumped from office by a sceptical and suspicious electorate. Then the other side get a go for a while.

Wild ideological oscillations among the factions of Australia’s political elite are as undesirable as the boom and bust cycles in the economy. Australia is fundamentally a centrist society. Our political discourse needs to be redirected to negotiating solutions for our problems, not waging rhetorical flame wars over irrelevant ideologies from the great class struggles of last century.

Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, Federal Election 2007, Ideology, Politics

The Dog’s Bollocks

What they say

The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

This is the person who tried to analyse Hayek. This is actually a person who needs a shrink. – JC

Shut up slim. You’re an idiot.
Just you stay honest and keep that thinking cap on. – GMB

Insightful perspectives on politics and discussion of matters epistemological? I’m sold! - Bruce

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