We love a good debate here at Crikey and this is a compilation of the anti-Howard emails that have poured in since November 10. They are easily out-numbering the pro-Howard ones.

Anyone who trys to deny that Howard won the election on anything other than race issues is fooling themselves.

Events in recent days have clearly demonstrated that it’s Howard who’s desperately trying to be the revisionist.

The Liberal Party even commissioned a poll (perhaps they got Gary Morgan to do it for them) that supposedly said that economic management was the main reason the Coalition got re-elected.

Who the hell are they kidding?

During the election and on polling day, I didn’t see any ads or posters saying “we reformed the tax system” or “x quarters of economic growth” or “low interest rates”.

But bugger me if I didn’t see hundreds of “security for Australia” and “we decide who comes here” messages.

People may try to deny that a single concept is not a smart idea for an Opposition to run on. And from the point of view that the ALP put too much emphasis on the GST, I agree.

But it’s foolishness to suggest that “us vs them” (the asylum seekers being “them”, because “they” don’t look like us and “they” want to come to “our” country and will probably take “our” jobs and resources) didn’t play the primary part in getting the Government re-elected.

You can’t force people’s hand, but you can appeal to their fears, prejudices and selfish motivations.

And history will judge Howard harshly for having unabashedly done so.

Call me idealistic but I really do believe that elections should be about who’s got a plan for building the future of the country (jobs, health and education do it for me every time), not who can keep a rickety old boat at arm’s length.

Name Withheld

Sack Lynton Crosby now

Let’s suppose that drowning women and children are in fact Al Qaeda terrorists attempting a seaborne invasion of Australia, as Howard implied in his election campaign, and that Lynton Crosby is correct when he says Liberal Party polling has found that his and Johnny’s cunning manipulation of the ugly side of Australia’s psyche, and their brazen theft of One Nation policies, were actually registering only around a number six as voter priorities (as he now claims).

If this spin on his electioneering is correct then lamb brained Lynton Crosby should resign now or be sacked by his gang, because he is admitting to having missed an enormous number of votes and hence House seats by skewing his campaigning so rabidly onto what turned out to have been a side-issue. And he has wasted money, at least, splattering little Johnny’s clenched fist image and blaring declaration “A vote for your local Liberal team member protects our borders and supports the Prime Minister’s team!” all over the media with saturation coverage for the last week of the campaign.

Crosby: resign, be sacked, or admit that you – with a belatedly anxious eye on history – are lying now about what you believe to have been the secret of your success in that disgraceful election campaign.

Slavering Nick Minchin Groupie

This guy is no leader

Crikey! So the little guy’s back.

First impressions;

* He wanted the job

* Kimbo wasn’t so sure and because of that he listened to others

But Johnny has violated Wells’ fifth axiom (probably ripped-off from someone else): “People who want to be in power should be kept as far from it as possible”.

I don’t want to bang-on about leadership, but how can a guy who’s natural insticts are to do nothing (that’s Liberal philosophy, isn’t it? and Johnnie is up there with the best; just ask him) be seen as a strong leader? And how can a Government that has presided over an A$ that has declined by a third be seen as good economic managers? And how can a Government that is led by a guy who’s obviously less than comfortable with someone who is a) Indonesian and b) a woman be entrusted with looking after Australia’s international interests?

And if you think my comments about being less than comfortable are wrong, just compare the smile when near Megawati with the one when giving the victory speech.

Let’s just hope there aren’t too many more refugees. We are now right in the world’s racist-seeking spotlight and when we get the tap on the shoulder from Uncle Sam, “OK guys, now you’ve gotta take your share”…, we will have been encouraged to turn them away. Very clever John. At least he’ll then be able to blame someone else for forcing them on us. What a leader.

But I’ll tell you why he’s back. Because the opposition was weak. If the boot was on the other foot, the Libs and their toady media mates would have been screaming about the dollar every bloody day. We got nothing from the Labour opposition.

We got nothing about funding category 1 schools until it was too late. And the cheeky government bastards gave forth rubbish about these schools being in Labour electorates! As if people in Corio send their kids to Geelong Grammer!

We got nothing about how “good” the economy is when HIH fell over, or Harris Scarffe or One-tel and as for Ansett …. well, it was just too late. Now I know that government policy has probably little to do with corporate failures (though I bet the dollar didn’t help One-tel), but the punters don’t know that and they should have been “flamed” by Labour again and again.

No, the Libs know all about one-liners… It “can’t be ruled out” that terrorists are amongst the asylum seekers…. John Howard’s a “strong leader”….. “Lots of ordinary people send their kids to Catholic schools”

So? we can’t “rule out” the possibility of a Martian invasion… Howard’s really just plain stubborn… No parent from ordinary private schools will be disadvantaged.

Forget policy. Labour really just needs to learn to Bitch.

Regards, Bill

Lessons from the JFK museum

Dear Stephen, I was overseas for most of the campaign and the only Australian press I saw was reference to the treatment of asylum seekers. On return I was appalled by both the overtly racist nature of the campaign and the ‘me-tooism’.

While away, I went to the JFK Library in Boston and there bought a copy of ‘Profiles of Courage’ (1956), the JFK Pulitzer Prize winner. In the introductory chapter 1 he refers to advice allegedly given by Senator Ashurst of Arizona to his colleague Mark Smith during the 1920 campaign:

“Mark, the great trouble with you is that you refuse to be a demagogue. You will not submerge your principles in order to get yourself elected. You must learn that there are times when a man in public life is compelled to rise above his principles.”

He also quotes Walter Lippman who wrote after nearly fifty years of careful observation:

“With exceptions so rare they are regarded as miracles of nature, successful democratic politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding threatening elements in their constituencies. The decisive consideration is not whether the proposition is good but whether it is popular–not whether it will work well and prove itself but whether the active-talking constituents will like it immediately.”

Regards, Paul

How to get up Howard’s nose?

If Chardonnay socialists really want to get up Howard’s nose why not:

a) constantly refer to the Howard government as the “One Nation government”

b) refer to the prime minister as “Prime Minister Hansen”

c) refer to the Minister for Immigration as the “Minister for White Supremacy”

d) simply laugh out loud at anyone who wants to argue that the Libs aren’t racist.

This may sound stupid but we’re not in a great intellectual debate here. People don’t change their minds simply because they are wrong. They usually change because they are made to look silly.


Liberal win unChristian

G’day Stephen,

I have just read Friday’s e-mail and being Sunday morning, I wonder how many of the government MPs who purport to be Christians (I am thinking particularly of Abbott) remeber the old saying “For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not whether you won or lost but how you played the game.” I will not bore your readers by quoting the many many verses of scripture the PM and his henchmen have trampled on to be returned to office, suffice it to say their verson of Christianity is foreign to mine.

History will judge our nation and the Libs harshly. For me as a former Lib this is victory without honour.

All the very best.


Coffin-dodging pokies players saved the backward moron

Hello Crikey,

In an attempt to find out how the hell we ended up with a squinty, dangerous, backward moron back in power for yet another term (jealousy of the US, I suspect) I stumbled upon some other views previously expressed in your latest issue.

One in particular sparked my interest, from ‘Ben’, with his comments ‘Bad show from the white, grey pensioners’. Oh yes, I agree with the sentiments – if it weren’t for the coffin-dodging community, John Howard would still be writing for ‘Model Trains Monthly’ magazine, and we’d all be without a bloody GST. But, regarding his allegations that ‘Seppo’s’ and ‘Poms’ fulfil a sizable chunk of our ‘illegal immigrant’ quota – what Zagames outlet did he just crawl out of, the bogan? I had to check with a mate from QUEENSLAND to find out what the term ‘Seppo’ meant, and have you ever been to London, Ben? I don’t know the figures, but the city is literally clogged with tens of thousands of us Aussies, myself included and many of us illegal, that are beating the locals to the jobs at every turn, and they still are unfailingly friendly in their treatment of us. When I went to vote, I discovered that London is Australia’s single largest polling pool, and most of them have their pretentious heads so far up their arses that they were voting Liberal as well, by the way. So spare a thought for the poor Poms, and maybe lay off the Winnie Blues for a while.

cheers Crikey, & thanks for keeping me informed.

Adam, London N1

Economic rationalism and social liberalism is the Crikey way

Dear Crikey,

The greatest virtue of your site is I believe very much a product of your personal politics (which I personally, being an unrepentant socialist, don’t share). Your combination of social liberalism and economic rationalism provides you with a genuine desire to slam, expose, & denounce all sides equally. If most of us disagree with some of the denunciations that’s only a sign that there’s something in it for everyone. Certainly I’ve never believed in the possibility of complete “objectivity” in reporting, preferring a clear statement of bias and honesty, which I believe you display.

Most recently you appear to be receiving some flak from supporters of Howard for your position on the refugees and I’d like to make a number of observations about both these and Michael Warby’s analysis. The first is that I am somewhat tired of the standard line about the poor “aspirational voters” who are being accused of racism versus the “chardonnay sipping inner-city elites” who voted Green. Though partial to the odd Rosemount, I live and work in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne where the Green vote was fairly high, despite being (please note Michael Warby) one of the areas where refugees are bound to end up living. In my booth in Footscray the Greens almost outpolled the Liberals. It would be interesting to check the bottle shops in Sunbury (where the Greens polled 7.2%) and Werribee (where they polled only 4%) to see if there is a correlation between Chardonnay consumption and support for refugees.

But seriously, the main problem I have with this argument is that it’s not actually an argument about the merits of supporting or not supporting the refugees. I’m not going to change my mind about immigration levels or the need for compassion just because someone tells me my opinion has a particular demographic spread.

Of course that demographic is not irrelevant – it tells me who needs to be convinced. So, for instance, it would appear that the beat up by shock jocks in Sydney’s about ethnic gangs probably helped Howard in Sydney’s west. Personally also I’m not surprised that the Green vote was highest in the inner-city where there’s the greatest concentration of politically active people and weaker in the suburbs where people are too busy raising families too look too deeply behind images flashed across the mainstream media.

Another furphy that annoys me is the anger that some people have expressed about how us “chardonnay sippers” accuse Howard of playing the race card. How dare we accuse decent mortgage paying, aspirationals Australian families of racism? Well, I have a mortgage and a family and I support the refugees – what is more if something has two legs & quacks I call it a duck. The majority of Liberal voters would have voted that way anyway, many others would have voted for Howard because of concern about interest rates or whatever. I wouldn’t describe these people as racist for voting Liberal. But let’s not kid ourselves here – Howard was cactus before Tampa. It was fear of those “nasty Muslims”, whom he lied systematically about and demonised at every opportunity, that swung those crucial marginal votes his way. You can of course add to this a hard core racist vote which swung staright from One Nation to the Liberals.

I don’t have contempt for the people who fell for Howard’s line on the Tampa. I understand their fears. But I don’t agree with them, and will try to change their minds without fear of dishonest Howard apologists whose only defence is the parrot cry of “elites”. I just hope that other people who feel this way and who voted Green or voted Labor (some even like Crikey would have voted or preferenced the Liberals through gritted teeth) don’t give up the fight against this racist immigration policy. Silent majorities have had their opinions changed by noisy minorities plenty of times throughout history. It’s time to start making more noise.

Regards, Robert

The Howard-inspired black cloud of depression

Dear Crikey

Still can’t lift the cloud of black depression that came with the horrible realisation that we are such an easily manipulated population. I’m happy to be called an ‘elite’ because that seems to mean compassionate, critical and thoughtful.

The bile spewing forth from the winners and their supporters only confirms that they KNOW this election was won on fear, divisiveness and racism. Why else would they spend so much time attacking the losers rather than celebrating a win?

For the Rodent to claim he won the election on his economic and policy record over the past five years is a sick joke. I don’t think posters and press ads with the slogan “We will decide who comes here and under what circumstances” made any reference to the Government’s track record over the past five years.

And if the idiots and bigots who happily and uncritically bought the whole ‘refugee crisis’ believe that, then they are dumber than I first thought. Clearly we need a better education system in this country!

Jane O’Dwyer

from that great bastion of ‘elites’, Canberra.

Tearing down the Simon and Suzanne arguments

Well excuse us, Simon & Suzanne (hic). One of you is pissed and abusive, the other high-minded and all too keen to lecture to the ‘minority’ amongst last Saturday’s voters.

As a member of the minority, and I think we stand at 49pc of the voting population, I would like to respond to a number of remarks.

1. Simon’s complaint about “condescending titles” being heaped upon Howard voters:

In the months since Ruddock and Howard (aka Mr Burns and Smithers) started whipping up racist hate over the refugees, the voting majority has been calling up the redneck radio hosts and joining in a general chorus of abuse and scorn against anyone who thinks the boat people are humans.

Anyone who has compassion for the refugees has had to put up with being called “bleeding liberals . . . lefties . . . commies” on Alan Jones or being sneered at by John Laws as “snivel libertarians”.

We have been bagged, rubbished and dismissed as the hate has bubbled over on the airwaves.

2. Simon’s remark: “If writers can start publicly demonstrating that those arriving here in fishing hulks are not Bin Laden supporters”.

Pul-eeze, give us a break. Long before the Liberals triumphed in the final campaign week with the claim that refos on the leaky boats just might be terrorists, callers were telling it to Jones and Laws. Eg one confided that “that Ben Laden” (those funny foreign terrorist names are just too hard to say) had his “henchman on those boats”.

I never thought the Libs could use it, far too outrageous. But, when all bets were off in the last gasp of their pull-out-all-stops try everything get-the-little-bloke-over-the-line campaign . . . guess what?

Last I checked, the men sent to crash into the World Trade Center jetted in and out of the US on a $500,000 terrorist project funded by bin Laden.

Risking death on a leaky boat to get to America to do his bidding was not part of the plan.

But the PM was happy for people to believe it, in one final glorious week of fear campaigning.

3. Dismissing the redneck views on the refugees as “uninformed”. Why not? They are. Or just blindly prejudiced.

Alan Jones is smart. He deliberately allowed the lines between the Tampa and the terrorist issues to blur, for those fleeing Taliban terror in their own country to be confused with those who perpetrated it.

It must have been an anxious moment for Liberal strategists when the refugee boat sank and their Australian families wept on television. Refugees humanised! That must have scared the shit out of Howard & Ruddock.

4. No-one with any sense says the Coalition win was illegitimate.

That’s right, that’s what compulsory voting is all about. But no honest person doesn’t say they won fair and square with a dirty race-based campaign brimming with xenophobia. What’s wrong with admitting politicians play dirty?

Finally, I think the onus should be on those who supported the winners to prove the claims of their party which are now splitting the community. Prove the boat people are terrorists. Prove that the Muslim communities of Australia positively seethe with them.

Prove that the ALP is rife with commies. If you think that’s a bit outre, turn on Alan Jones, because he’s starting his own campaign for the next Federal election right now. He called Jenny Macklin “a raving leftie” last week.

The hate campaign has not died post-election, nor will it evaporate with the threat of the turbanned peril from the north coming down to invade, should the fall of the Taliban be the end of the war.

Jonesy’s going to try and win the Libs the next one by convincing his semi-moronic followers that dangerous reds still lurk in Australia. Not just under the beds, but on the front benches of Federal Parliament.

Funny, but those days of the Cold War seem far safer than these of the “War Against Terrorism”, when Fundamentalism filled the vacuum left after the death of Socialism.

There’s a challenge for Michael Testa: can he think of a way to blame lefties for the flowering of terrorism?

Cheers & Regards

media employee, name withheld

Hi Stephen, Here are some thoughts post election. I too was extremely disappointed but not surprised by the election result. My major disappointment was that after ignoring the entire campaign for the first four weeks ( being overseas) I caught the last few days and thought Labor might just scrape in. The turnaround from the early post-Tampa days seemed possible but too good to be true. The fact that so many commentators were calling a Labor victory both in the final days of the campaign and even on the night itself, suggests that no-one was certain of the outcome. The sense of relief from most on the Government side says they also had no idea. As it was I think Labor did extremely well given that they had alienated their two primary constituencies, the blue-collar vote and the liberal progressives. (Aside: Can one political party satisfy both of these groups in future?). I didn’t agree with anything Labor said on refugees and am at a loss to explain how they still managed to get more than 38% of the primary vote. Who voted for them? I wanted them to win but went for Peter McDonald (Independent) in the Reps and the Greens in the Senate.

As usual, the post-mortems always cast a loss for any party as catastrophic, particularly by the mainstream media. But has Labor done so badly? My reading of the situation is that, as in most elections, the result could have been reversed with only a few thousand votes. If this had happened Beazley would be the conquering hero and John W on his way back to Wollstonecraft. Labor would have run the perfect campaign, the Libs in disarray and facing a long period of introspection. Now Labor can spend the time in contemplation which is so necessary for their revival and the Libs can rejoice, putting off their inevitable day of reckoning.

John Howard has been raised to a mythical status by some on both sides of politics for his Machiavellian manipulation of the political terrain; that is, he knew exactly what he was doing and he succeeded brilliantly. I don’t think he really knew how to play the issues. He was given an opportunity to change the focus to his advantage, he took some risks and it just paid off. I don’t think he has the faintest idea on what the consequences will be over the next three years and beyond. If you look at his history Howard has struggled through one crisis after another. After 25 years you’d expect him to get something right. His time as Treasurer in Fraser’s government was anti-climactic to say the least. No one remembers what he achieved except that he left Labor with an awful mess. He has been castigated for this ever since and it hurts him.

In opposition he was given the chance to lead the party and squibbed it. He wasn’t wanted by the party until they had tried everyone else and had no-one else to turn to. In 1996 he won against a tired government with a despised leader (not by me). He went downhill straightaway. By 1998 he miraculously hung on with fewer votes than Labor. For the majority of his second term he was headed in the same direction until the Tampa came across the boat-people. Despite the win he is not a respected or indeed loved PM. Doesn’t sound like a great politician to me. Mediocre at best with enough hide to ignore his detractors.

I’m disgusted at and saddened by the attitudes of most Australians to the refugees but its still a great place to live and we’ll get by when we expunge JWH from the record and good people continue to do good things.

John from Mosman

New York thinks less of Australia


From the second largest circulation paper in United States (Wall Street Journal):

Front Page “Australian Prime Minister Howard won re-election Saturday in a race that turned largely on efforts to bar illegal immigrants. Some commentators said that the campaign had racist overtones.”

That is it – the world’s New View of Australia in a nutshell.

Put yourself in the shoes of the CEO of a Fortune 1000 company – why would you invest millions of dollars in a country that wants to close itself off from the world? Why would you want senior members of your management team to come from a culture which can not deal effectively with all the employees of your organisation, let alone your customers?

Australia deserves its sad and pitiful status as a has-been economic power. At the turn of the 19th century Australia led the world on a GDP/capita basis. Today we battle it out in the #20ish spot.

It is a disgrace. We can do better than this.

Gervaise Heddle

New York

From London we’re viewed as racists

Having paid relatively scant attention to the election campaign back home, I have just spent the past couple of hours reading the post mortems at ‘your say’ and found it enthralling, albeit somewhat disturbing. We are an angry mob aren’t we?

I can report that here in London, voting itself was a most pleasant experience that involved being frisked by a very well built black man upon entry. Oh I say… why isn’t there a higher voter turn out in the UK!

It would seem that the rest of the world thinks we are a bunch of racist nutters, irrespective of whether you think the boat people issue contributed to people’s voting or not. This is not good if you want people to have a beer with whilst travelling outside Australia.

Why is the immigration/refugee issue is so hard for people to deal with? (Sorry kids but things are about to get crude and hypothetical here.) If your neighbour knocks on your door in the middle of the night claiming that she is being made to stay home from work everyday and the family is planning to cut off her daughter’s clitoris, you would probably let both her and the kid in…even if your only cares in life included job + house. Sure, you’d be out of pocket, forking out for her and the rug-rat’s weetbix for a bit, and there may be a bit of a battle in the morning for the shower. But surely you would cop these inconveniences rather than turn them away and then lie awake at night wondering what happened to the poor sods?

Apparently in Australia we would not cop these inconveniences.

When boat loads of Afghanistan’s risk life and limb leaving their own country to escape the Taliban and Big Bad Bin, we instead foster anti-western rhetoric by telling them to ‘bog off’, then claim we are fighting a war against terrorism? I am confused!

It is an enormous danger to do nothing for the next three years and hope that things work out better next time. Rather than indulging in a big barney and over-using any of the following wank-terms, “chattering classes, ordinary people, chardonnay drinking, media’s to blame, elite, bleating classes, politically correct, battler, tru blu, intelligentsia” and other associated drivel, if people feel that Liberal and Labor are both complete shite, let’s do something different. Is it so shocking an idea to think that there are people with good ideas who could actually be arsed to get involved in politics? Malcolm, Mark, Mario and Jack: you all sound quite sane, are you up for it fellas?

As for Susan Jordan…geez Skip, you sound like one angry sister. I think you may benefit from a holiday to London that involves firmly placing a few dozen ecstasy pills “up yours.”

Emma in London

Howard will go the way of Kennett

Howard’s done a Kennett, charming the bogan voters. The petrol-heads loved Kennett for the grand prix, the tough talk, the hint of legalising marijuana, possum sex, calling another motorist “a prick” and getting sprung, copping a fine he never had to pay for speeding thru the western district. Kennett nearly won most of the Geelong seats with his petrol head appeal and Howard has done the same in Sydney’s west with his racist tub-thumping. At least Jeff never resorted to that as the Greek vote was too valuable.

The Talkback Mullahs Jones and Laws will be the first people shot come the revolution and the Grand Wizard of the Burning Cross, little Johnny, will have to be next. And for god’s sake, why aren’t the views of the so-called “intelligentsia”, the chattering classes, the elites, the bleaters important or right or legitimate or real? Don’t we get a say? And who fits these labels anyway? I can point to at least five members of my family who don’t live anywhere near Parkville and who couldn’t be classed as “elite”, but because they’ve thought about an issue for 5 minutes and formed an opinion, they’re relegated to the chattering class category. I Think, Therefore I Am Part of the Chattering Classes. Bugger that for a joke. They’re just capital P PEOPLE.

And all of us are being held to ransom by the F#@*ing Grand Wizard for god’s sake – REVOLUTION NOW!

Name Withheld

It’s okay to be racist

Howard’s use of the race card during the federal election and his subsequent success has sent out the message that its ok to be racist. Infact, its un-Australian if you aren’t.

In times gone by, it was the widespread belief that Aboriginal people and anyone that wasn’t white was inferior. This was based upon constant scientific inquiries attempting to prove that biological or, more recently, genetic differences were responsible for the discrepencies in material possessions such as guns, large cities, clothing etc. Such scientific inquiries formed the basis of our policy towards Aboriginal people who were slaughtered like animals, institutionalised and didn’t gain the vote until the 1960s. Even today, the IQ test – a Western/European test – continues to try to prove these differences.

As a young Australian, brought up in an educated family, I have been taught in school and by my parents that being racist is not a good thing. Concurrently, the news media, within my lifetime, has constantly reiterated that Australia is multi-cultural and tolerant. In fact, Australia has manufactured its whole identity based on this perception.

Yet still, many people in Australia, and throughout the Western World for that matter, still accept racist explanations that have not been proven and in fact disproven. Differences in natural resources and the wider environment remain the only successful explanations.

In an attempt to explain this years federal election, it could be said that Howard simply mobilised the latent racism in his favour. Yes, Howard was elected as leader but at what cost to a country that perceives itself as multicultural? At what cost to a country that maintains, through schools and (until now) the media, cultural tolerance?

Moral value cannot be given to somebody simply because they win an election. For those of you who have forgotten: Australia is a nation in the international community. Our survival depends upon trade and secure relations with the international community. It was often reported that when Pauline Hanson rose to prominence, many Asian business people were no longer keen to do business in Australia.

Howard’s victory will be damaging to Australia. This is why so many former leaders, from both sides of the spectrum, have criticised Howard. He is not only racist, but unprofessional and a poor leader.

Troy Howard is cunning but he’s not a real leader

Whether Howard is racist or not is, to some extent, a side issue. The fact is that he is a very clever political strategist. The ALP banked on getting their message out during the election campaign. Howard picked a sure fire issue which hogged the limelight during the campaign, thereby scuttling the ALP’s strategy.

The issues for me are:

Do we want to carry on electing the ‘cleverest’, most cunning politician or do we want a real leader, who is honest and ethical? The electorate has clearly chosen the former. Maybe because Beazley is not, or chose not to present himself as, the latter.

Why is the electorate so ready to vote for a politician, even when, just a few days before the election, he was found to have at least misled them, and probably lied to them, over the ‘tossing their children overboard’ incident? Seems to me the people didn’t really care what the truth was, they had already made up their minds. Just goes to prove that a politician can create his/her own version of reality, and if it appeals to people, it becomes the official version.

Where is the media’s objectivity and impartiality? One small example: on the morning of the election, the Adelaide Advertiser’s banner headline was “The Boat People Poll”. Howard himself couldn’t have chosen a headline more in his favour. I’m sure over the next 3 years we will see further destruction and demoralisation of the ABC, and the shock jocks and tabloids will hold sway over public opinion.

Bleak times ahead.

Mike H

Fraser right about a divided Australia

Dear Crikey

I doubt anyone in Australia has splinters from sitting on the fence following that election. And the results have certainly released unseemly levels of bile, surprisingly as much from the winners as the losers, in the letters in “Yoursay”, in the letters in the dailies, and among the columnists. It seems Malcolm may have been right when he said the treatment of the refugees would divide Australians for a long time to come. >From what I have seen so far, I think the “nyah nyah yah boo sucks” schoolboy smartarsery of Imre Saluzinsky’s gloat in the Fairfax press on Monday probably takes the cake for constructive analysis. If nothing else, his effort at least exemplified what critics mean when they say academic standards have fallen. But it is encouraging to know there is at least one anti-elitist academic. It’s such a worthy trait among those who would aspire to scholastic achievement.

I wrote to you on 1 September that Howard would do anything to win the election. And didn’t he show it during the campaign. Those who would deny it need only review his performance on “Lateline” last week, when he said we needed to screen “these people” (by which he means only the wogs, not the whites) to ensure there were no undesirable elements among them. Not that he was “inferring” anything (note for Imre: he meant “implying” of course), it was just a reasonable precaution to take. Can we assume therefore, that all tourists from the UK will be similarly screened in future, since they form the largest group of overstayers (ie illegal immigrants) in Australia? I think his response would be interesting were the inconsistency to be raised come Question Time next year.

Howard is telling the truth when he says he is a conviction politician. But that does not mean his convictions are always out there on show. After the kerfuffle over Asian immigration in the 1980s, he suppressed that particular conviction. In fact in 1995-6 he suppressed all his convictions, or concealed them behind non-core promises, when he became the small target man. But as PM he has not afraid to fight when his convictions have been rejected by his own constituency. Just look at the energy he invested, laudibly, in selling the anti-gun message in 1996, in the face of almighty opposition in his coalition partner’s heartland. He has also, in the face of widespread opposition, introduced a GST (he only just achieved that mandate because of the residual margin from 1996), and taken other financial and economic measures (eg sale of Telstra) because he personally believed in them.

So commentary about his “reflecting the popular will” are really quite irrelevant. His Tampa policy was not about reflecting the popular will, it was about exploiting it. The joy of it was that it dovetailed beautifully with his own convictions so it was just a natural for him. While there was plenty of money to pay for advertising for the GST, we are never going to see a Howard government pay for advertising which fosters social cohesion or community tolerance.

So what next? Well he’ll delay Parliament as long as he can to allow the new Ministers to become familiar with their portfolios before the commencement of “children overboard” and other Senate enquiries. He’ll also be praying that, with Kabul now out of Taliban hands, Afghanistan will be stablised sufficiently for the “Pacific solution” refugees to be sent back, and so avoid the difficulty of deciding what to do with them next. And if Afghanistan is stabilised, perhaps the refugee flow will begin to stem – which will allow more crowing about the success of the Ruddock Doctrine. And of Howard personally? Don’t forget he is a “cricket tragic”, sharing their keen eye for records, stats and history. He’s been at the Kirribilli Lodge for 5.5 years but Fraser is the second longest serving Liberal PM at 7.5 years. That is Howard’s third term agenda – to be second to Menzies in the Liberal pantheon. And the 64 birthday question? Do the sums. Fraser served for 89 months. Howard’s 90th month as PM comes up in September 2003 – two months after his 64th birthday.

But much also depends on his personal performance, and other factors such as the effects of the global situation on the domestic economy, in the meantime. Having given them three wins, he has ensured his backbenchers’ super payouts, so they will be grateful to him for now. But his use-by date for them is fast approaching (unless he tries to go to 70, like Menzies) and as time passes self interest will steer their loyalties towards his successor, in whose hands will lay their futures. Just watch Howard the ringmaster orchestrate the Abbott vs Costello Show to keep the rest of his party room in doubt until he’s ready to declare. It’s a pity Peter Reith misjudged things and jumped early, but then on second thoughts, no it’s not.

Cheers, Innocent Bystander

Suzanne cheating on her hubby

Dear Suzanne

You make more sense when you’re pissed. Guilty? Are you some sort of Catholic? What a bloody shame the Proddies didn’t sort you out 50 years ago when we were busy hating each other for the same religion. If you’re going attempt a mea culpa, then save the matriarchal paternalism (how do you like them contrary elite intellectualisms! No, I don’t have a bloody clue what it means either, but then I’m little Aussie Bleater). There’s only so many times I can be called an elite-wet- bleeding-heart-do-gooder while trying to have a rational discussion on the facts about immigration and refugees before I fall into the name-calling trap too. And while I’m really thinking ‘closed-minded, belligerent little shit’ I try to mitigate my rising anger by bleating out ‘Wedge-ist!’ Sure the right runs away crying about how much it hurts after that, and how mean we’re being, but they deserved it! And besides, they started it.

So next time, make sure your computer has a breathalyser before you boot it up. And when you promise something to hubby, try to honour it. I mean for Chrissake!

You’re cheating on him with John Winston Howard!

Cheers, The other Simon

The history of government in Australia

It is very interesting to read some of the opinions following the result of the Federal Election. The reasons put forward for the result range over a wide spectrum with not a little slap at the “Elites”. What seems to have been overlooked is that the takeover in 1996 was the beginning of a long haul in office for the conservatives. People who don’t know their history can’t appreciate the present. In 1949 Menzies defeated Chifley on an appeal to the greed and fear of the population. With the exception of one hiccup when Killen allegedly kept him in office on communist preferences he stayed safe in charge, so much so that he lived at the lodge during his terms and on retirement did not own a house of his own. The liberals would probably never have lost office had they not allowed Billy McMahon to get the leadership.

Having won office in 1972 the ALP was so inexperienced and so loaded with time servers that they had no idea of the system of Government, although it must be admitted that there were a couple of extremely unethical actions taken by both the bureaucracy and the conservatives at both Federal and State level. The Libs thrust into government failed to do anything of significance under the management of Fraser and Howard. Along came Hawke loaded with charisma and high public profile and really won for the ALP. But the event that has damned any chance of the ALP ever getting a rails run happened when Keating stalked Hawke and finally downed him. This split the party and shattered the supporters. Then Keating got lucky in the way the Liberals played musical chairs with the leadership which resulted in the installation of Hewson who was a good academic but not a politician because he lacked the venom to counter Keating. He did not win the 1993 election. Keating believed his own perception of himself as a legend. Come 1996 he had so alienated the electorate that even Downer could have won an election. As it turned out he did not have the strength to control his party so Howard was pressed into the leadership. Such was the loathing for Keating that there was a landslide to a party that had promised nothing but to get rid of him.

Along comes 1998 and Howard came close to defeat and now in 2001 he has a majority of 12 or so. What history tells us is that the Australian people particularly the so called ordinary people are natural conservative voters. They have been and still are frightened of a change and by and large accept that the conservative parties are better managers. Hawke was probably the only one that was regarded as a better proposition and even he had started to lose some of his appeal when he was chopped down by his own parliamentary colleagues.

Since Federation the ALP has been in government for about 35 years and of this 13 was the Hawke/ Keating period. Australians have been remarkably unsympathetic towards the idea of a social democracy and to a large degree have adopted the British custom of accepting a ruling class. Couple with this the tendency of those that make some progress either financially or socially to regard themselves as part of the conservative ranks and it is a wonder that the ALP has ever won office.

The one thing which the ALP has been good at is coming up with ideas. Although the conservatives initially reject these they do install many of them as their own at later dates.

One of the anomalies of the Australian culture is the acceptance of the conservatives demonising of Trade Unions. Whatever working conditions that have been gained have come through the efforts of the unions, but there is a reluctance by the majority of workers to become members of the union. While accepting the results of union efforts on their behalf most workers are not prepared to support or belong to unions.The myth of mateship which originated in the early part of our nationhood was based on joint effort of unionism.Nowadays it is each person for themselves.

The ALP is most unlikely to ever gain office at federal level and if it does it will be by default. It is a great party to keep the Government on its mettle. The good news is the because of an ALP initiative the Senate will rarely be in a majority for either and it is here that some restraint will be placed on conservative ideological excesses always provided that the crossbenchers retain their standards unlike both Harradine and Lees whose delusions of grandeur betrayed both the Aborigines and the general populace.

One thing to be borne in mind is that despite all the arguments that Howard used racist prejudices as a part of his campaign is that this is untrue. He is not a racist but a person who cannot tolerate those whose skin pigmentation or eye shape is other than Anglo/Celtic Best Wishes

Jim Johnson

Sad memories of the St Louis

I don’t believe that the Tampa tipped the 2001 election scales – but our collective indifference probably did. I couldn’t put it better than Elie Wiesel a holocaust survivor speaking at a White House Symposium on April 12, 1999. I’ve attached the extracts below.

“The depressing tale of the St. Louis is a case in point. Sixty years ago, its human cargo, maybe 1,000 Jews, was turned back to Nazi Germany. And that happened after the Kristallnacht, after the first state-sponsored pogrom, with hundreds of Jewish shops destroyed, synagogues burned, thousands of people put in concentration camps. And that ship, which was already on the shores of the United States, was sent back.

I don’t understand. Roosevelt was a good man, with a heart. He understood those who needed help. Why didn’t he allow these refugees to disembark? A thousand people — in America, a great country, the greatest democracy, the most generous of all new nations in modern history. What happened? I don’t understand. Why the indifference, on the highest level, to the suffering of the victims?”

Elie concluded with the following fable – replace the wise man with Sol Lebovic from Newspoll and you have the modern version.


Bad show from the white, grey pensioners

A couple of points:

1. Why criticise Crikey for being “too partisan”? As developments last century in quantum physics have demonstrated, there is no such thing as the objective observer. To report on events pretending to be objective conceals the agenda or motivation of the reporter, which is an attempt to give one’s own prejudicial views the extra credibility of “the voice of reason”. Schlocksters like Andrew Bolt do this and I for one am glad Crikey doesn’t. I guess it depends on whether you only want to read stuff that you agree with or if you actually like to think critically and read at the same time.

2. To your readers who want to be against “illegals” but not racist, on the basis that our immigration policy is not of itself racist — maybe not, but selective enforcement of the policy may be. What about those immigrants (mostly Seppos and Poms) who overstay their visas, thus becoming illegal immigrants? Using Tampa logic, these people are “illegals” and threaten the sanctity of our borders. Shouldn’t we send the army out to round up and flush these illegals from our country also? Owners of Backpackers Hostels are nothing but disgraceful “people-hiders” who profit from these poor illegals, many of whom are escaping oppressive drinking laws. I say spend $3 million a day getting these folk out . . . they’d go quietly, too; after being in the average hostel, they’d probably find a detention centre was luxury.

3. Good on you white, greying Australians for re-electing Johnny. Obviously you just want more pension handouts and approve of the National Campaign Against Incontinence. Today’s news about the increasing wealth gap between young and old shows you who the real elites are.


Too right it is racism

Dear Crikey,

In a letter entitled “Crikey becoming too partisan” Luke Harris writes:

“The possibility that some voters with minimal racial tolerance voted for a party with a strong anti-illegal immigrant policy does not in itself make the policy racist.”

I agree. IT’S RACIST BECAUSE IT’S BLOODY WELL RACIST and anyone with a bit of nous, a pencil and some paper can work out just how racist it is.

You can, for example, see that if an Afghan and a Kosovar put up their hands and ask us for asylum, the Kosovar has 15 TIMES the chances of being picked than the Afghan.

Or is it just that Europeans queue in a more orderly fashion, proving that they’re “more worthy”…

If you think you can prove our asylum-seeker policy isn’t racist then speak up! If you want to check the facts, go to:


Andrew Solomon

[email protected] … not afraid of feedback

I’m an elite with a heart


I had never thought of myself as part of an “elite” before. (The word still makes me think of the character from the TV show Pizza). But according to the general current use of the word (I know other yoursayers have made good points re how much this is at odds with the word’s traditional meaning), I am starting to feel proud about self-identifying with this group.

For the record, I think many of us do more than just bleat. For my part I have primarily been suffering internally. I once had a decent sized chunk of my psyche labelled “pride in being Australian”. This part of me had – through years of excuse-making and rationalisation – firmly held onto the view that Australia stood for something. Egalitarianism. A fair go. Those old cliches, which I liked to imagine went well beyond the cliche51 into something real that made being Australian something to take pride in.

This election was the point at which the excuses and rationalisations had to end. While the history-rewriters can tell themselves whatever makes them feel better, this was clearly a referendum on whether Australia stood for humanitarian principles or for callous bigotry. I’m not making that up in order to disparage mainstream/real/True Blue Aussies (TBAs). I wanted to love the people of Australia. But I can’t keep lying to myself on their behalf anymore. I can’t recall ever calling any individual a racist. But in my own mind I can’t deny the reality any longer.

I know the “what Australia stands for” part sounds corny, but this vote was quite clearly about symbolism and everybody knew it. That’s why Howard/Ruddock etc could use their code words in the campaign and then claim “I never meant it in a racist sense”. The professional elite-bashers ought to try talking to a few of their beloved TBAs – it’s pretty obvious that everyone knew what the vote was about, and they knew exactly what they wanted the country to stand for.

So I’m a whole lot less proud to be an Australian. However I’m now becoming proud to be part of The Elites.

Nobody seems to have offered a comprehensive definition of The Elites. It obviously doesn’t relate to having significant wealth or power or inherited privilege. From what I can make out from general usage, it basically refers to anyone who hates John Howard and what he has done to the country.

Now that I know I’m part of this group, I suddenly find myself concerned about our lack of political representation. Despite all the talk by the elite-bashers about all the things we are inflicting on the country, there do not appear to be many politicians willing to represent us. ALP, Liberals, Nats and PHON pitched themselves entirely to the TBAs. It’s hard to tell who the Dems are aiming for. I guess the Greens are there for The Elites (and got plenty of our votes this time), but some of us like capitalism and aren’t completely convinced by the threats of impending ecocatastrophe.

It occurs to me that The Elites need their own party. I accept that we aren’t the majority, but we are a decent sized minority. Basically this party could be like the Nationals, who only represent one particular minority but get ministerial positions and manage to throw a bit of weight around. The Elites party could work the same way as the Nats, except that instead of using their sway to porkbarrel unproductive parts of the country they could use it to revive the republic debate, promote reconciliation with indigenous Australians, reintroduce logic and compassion to the refugee issue, bleat, bleat, bleat … (you know the story).

The Chardonnay Party? The Latte Party?

It would be a wonderful feeling to walk into the primary school on election day knowing that there was a party that stood for the same things that I do.

I felt ill on Sunday morning

Dear Crikey,

I, probably like most Australians with at least a single bone of humanity, awoke on Sunday feeling physically ill at the disgraceful re-election of One Nation for a third consecutive term in office.

Let’s face it, things have just got better and better for the good old Aussie bigot ever since the day the rodent first took the reins back in 96.

That’s to be expected given the Small One’s track record on all things racial. But the hide he has demonstrated in denying he ever played the race card is not only despicable, but breathtaking beyond imagining.

That hide is more astounding when you consider that even before efforts to send dark-skinned refugees back to their tormentors became front page news, Little Johnny’s mates in the West, most notably in the Nat Farmers Federation, were clamouring for WA to be declared a safe haven for any white Zimbabwean farmer who cared to make the trip.

Now I have no problem with victims of that loon Mugabe seeking asylum on this side of the water — events in Zimbabwe are as deplorable as things can get — but the call for an open door invitation to honky cockies is a clear sign of the real reason for turning back the boats from the middle east. Simply, that only good Christian whities can expect an unconditional welcome to these fair shores.

It beggars belief to think that we as a nation can, on the one hand, join efforts to dump tonnes of high explosive, and adhere to strict trade sanctions in order to depose various tyrannical regimes (efforts which typically have no impact on their intended targets, just the poor old everday sods lacking any control over their rogue rulers), yet on the other, dodge our very clear obligation to aid those escaping the very same tyrants.

Welcome to Australia, where our horizons now extend as far as the tip of the Rodent’s nose.

John Phaceas


Destroy their homeland and give them no option

What narks me most about the policies of both major parties at the moment is not the hypocrisy (sending troops to war and then refusing refugees who clearly just want out of the place), it the fact that these policies are a direct reaction to the opinion polls. Are Australians really so selfish as to think it is fair to destroy someone’s homeland AND refuse them any other option? When politics like this is against the mood of the Australian public, I can deal with it. When I discover my countrymen (and women) are this devoid of compassion, I am wonder if I shouldn’t find somewhere else to live.

What’s New Zealand like this time of year?


Howard is the elite

Isn’t it time Howard’s revolting cheer squad stopped droning on about “elites” and their supposed impotence in the face of the aspirations of “real” Australians.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but my dictionary defines an “elite” as a select group or class which exercises power through influence. If the “elites” are not being listened to, how can they be elites?

I know it is cherished notion of these petit bourgeious tories to see themselves as cultural renegades flinging bombs into the holy shrines of the cognisceti, but they really need to get a grip on reality.

Look at the facts. Virtually every major media outlet in this country backed the Coalition, as did virtually every radio demigod and about 80 per cent of the overpaid columnists. This government has been in power for five years, probably will be for another five. It has stacked the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the public service and the ABC with people of its own political persuasion. The stench of its “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi” nationalism has corrupted the diplomatic service. And these people have the temerity to bleat about the elites? THEY are the elites. Howardism IS the establishment.

The simple fact is that people of reason and compassion have been disenfranchised by the fact that the traditional party of the centre left is lost in the wilderness of its now irrelevant industrial working class roots. As the Howard army of philistines and advocates of Small Australia indulge in their vulgar triumphalism, they should remember that fact. We are still here. We will not be silenced

Name Withheld

Humanitarianism ranked above school fees

I note that the writer of the missive about elite school funding was too gutless to include his or her name. Nothing like not having the courage of your own convictions, is there?

As for his/her doubt that “one parent who sends their children to a private school would have voted ALP”. Well this humanitarian did, because the issue of how we conduct ourselves as a country is more important to me than any limited impact the school fees issue it might have on the school fees I pay.

The Liberal party’s scare campaign on this issue was almost as scurrilous as their campaign against fulfilling our obligations as a developed nation, vis a vis the utilisation of our full quota of refugees. The impact on all but the richest schools would have been negligible, and Howard’s idiotic Minister plainly lied when he repeatedly asserted to the contrary.

I am saddened for my country. Apparently I was naive to think of Australia as a bastion of egalitarianism, as a blueprint for multiculturalism. Instead I see a country which has elected a party whose major point of appeal was its ability to rally support from the ignorant and the bigoted, based on some spurious belief that asylum seekers from Afghanistan are somehow a threat to the stability of our country.

Shame on us. Shame on all of us for not having a loud enough voice to drown out Howard’s bigotry. Shame on us for having no compassion for these people, fleeing the oppressive regime of the fundamentalist Taliban. Shame on us for consigning their daughters to a womanhood than includes genital mutilation, a life of subservience and a life with no prospect of controlling their own existence. I hope those people who deserted Pauline Hanson for the similar bigotry of John Howard are happy with the result.

Shame, too, to those traditional left wing Labour voters, who somehow thought that a vote for the Greens was going to improve the circumstances of these desperate people. You really taught Kim Beazley a lesson, didn’t you! And what a powerful rebuke you sent John Howard you assisted in re-electing him, and now you have to endure him and his cynical Thatcherism for another four years. If you’d have voted with your heads, and not your hearts, you could have contributed to Beazley being elected, and we might have seen humanitarianism triumph over political opportunism.

David Burne

Racism and xenophobia are always vote winners


Keep up the good work and ignore the mindless cheering of those rodent lovers. The facts of this election is quite clear. Six months ago the Liberals were going to get smashed. Along comes a Norwegian scapeboat (lucky for the Rodent it wasn’t a US boat) and all of a sudden he is a hero. All the rest of the crap self justification by the Liberals (eg Private school funding economic management etc. is irrelevant). Racism and Xenophobia have always been vote winners (just ask Adolf). Yes Labour actually supported the Rodent’s policies but the perception amongst those well read and well informed “average Australians” was something different. The fact that these policies had widespread support does not in itself make it right (remember the world used to be flat according to the majority).The best thing to come out of this election will be watching how the Rodent proceeds with his economically unsustainable policies (it now costs us 3 times as much to protect our borders than it previously did) to protect us from the few thousand illegal boat people (last year there were approx 4000 arrivals more like a trickle than a flood).

Most of all I have one question for those self satisfied smug supporters of the Rodents approach to illegal. Does it ever become a moral issue for you? Can you never put yourself in these people’s shoes and imagine how frighteningly cruel the world must appear to these people or does the comfort of middle class Aus excuse us from feelings of humanity?

Regards, Ewan Mitchell

Bile and anger spewing from the winners

Dear Crikey,

Yoursay really seems representative of the general feeling in the community (from what I can judge). As hard as I find it to say, congratulations to those who rejoice in Howard’s return.

The most notable thing is the bile and anger that is spewing forth from the winners. Not a gracious winner among ’em. So much hatred, it really staggers me.

It raised a laugh to read someone praising Paddy McGuinness’ SMH column of Saturday. It was pure reactionary shite. He just couldn’t work out whether he should vent his spleen in case the Libs lost, or rubbish and thumb his nose at the journalist class that he so hates (and is a member of), in the event that the Libs won. That’s fine, but there is very little doubt that Howard, Reith and Ruddock used the line of the asylum seekers throwing their children in the water for political ends, and they have been caught out, and Paddy wanted to blame the messenger.

And you can claim all you like that the boat people/asylum seekers/illegal immigrants issue wasn’t racist wedge politics but you’re fooling no-one. It always comes back to the question, if the boat people were white skinned and English speaking, would there be the same degree of outrage and ‘border protection’ fear. I just don’t believe you.

And as for this bullshit about ‘the elites’. Just who are they. John Howard isn’t one of them, Tony Abbott isn’t one of them, that Kerry Jones monarchist woman wasn’t one of them, just who the hell are they. Apparently a life of privilege and wealth doesn’t gain entry to this club. It seems the middle class are now the elites. Howard double-speak again.

When was the last time that Australia was so divided with so much expressed anger. Relaxed and comfortable?

Subscription on its way.


Why did it take 213 boats to turn them around

Thanks Stephen for having the balls to criticise John Howard as a man prepared to use race to get elected and for having no third term agenda. It’s even better to hear it from someone who’s voted Lib all their life and has worked for them.

The MV Tampa rescued the 213th Indonesian boat to attempt to land in Australia since Howard was PM – if he was principled he would have turned away the other 212 boats – he used the Tampa incident recklessly and showed his true colours on issues of race. He divided the nation for his own ends. And where were the progressive Libs in Parliament? They also must share the blame.

I am sick of hearing Howard referred to as a “conviction politician”. He only won by overplaying the role Australia will play internationally post September 11 and beating up on race. I wonder if anyone could, unprompted, name 3 new Liberal policies announced during the campaign. They will claim a mandate to do all number of things- and after all the winners always write the history- but it should never be forgotten that the Libs won by fear and opportunism and not by policy or principles.

One other thing – although the pre election coverage on Crikey was generally good – Hillary’s guide to the marginals was woeful and beneath her. It was totally unrigorous needlessly personal and often petty. It wasn’t even very funny.

Otherwise keep up the good work.


Crikey coloured by Howard hatred


I have really enjoyed your election coverage which I found to be fairly balanced notwithstanding your stated personal preference which, whilst absolutely defensible (at least you “came out”), I think it unintentionally coloured your reactions and reporting of other events. Nevertheless, Crikey’s total pre election package has been instructive and very very enjoyable.

However, may I offer the following thoughts which have their origins in a discussion I overheard between some of my younger staff members this morning. The election result was an “only alternative” vote result. The result was enhanced by an electorate which is sick and tired of being lectured by a chattering “we, and only we know what is best for you to think and any contrary opinion to ours will be classed racist” media, as well as doddery, expired shelf-life, sad old ex-pollies.

Senator Despoya was rightly treated by the electorate as the flimsy shame that she is and the policy deprived party she repeatedly posed for. Bob Brown’s Greens was an attractive alternative vote because at least they had a policy platform for consideration. The preference voting deals struck a powerfully sour taste in the minds of the electorate who again, just do not like being lectured to. And generally, the media just doesn’t get it.

In fact in many of the late Saturday evening and Sunday morning reviews, there existed a constant tinge of ” look what those poor fool voters have done.” In other words, we the media haven’t/didn’t get it wrong . . . the voters have.

Will the media now understand how out-of-touch it is with the folks from the Burbs and the Bush as it continually rams its group PC down our throats. I doubt it. And of course, it will be the folk’s fault, never the media.

And a final reaction to Saturday evening’s TV coverage which I thought was a terrific mix of styles as I worked over the remote control. Who on earth was that dreadful woman (yep, the blonde one . . . I think Helen someone) on the Nine panel who made such a constant fool of herself with her irrelevant, inaccurate and one-sided interruptions? She put in a shocker.

Thanks again for your terrific coverage.

Regards, The Sole Subscriber!

You can’t deny the racism victory


All other arguments aside, this election was won and lost on the issue of racism, xenophobia and fear mongering. The Coalition did it masterfully, playing on the asylum seekers for all their worth. The ALP took a punt on trying to nullify the issue by siding with the Government and in the process lost a lot of the party faithful. I can see the rationale from a political pragmatic point of view, however they ran the risk of losing the voters that previously would have voted Labor because of their stand on social justice. The Greens provided the only contrary position to this and as a result flourished.

The Liberal Party has responsibility for creating this issue as an election issue and for all of the hysteria and fear that was generated as a result. This shows a complete lack of scruples on behalf of the Government with regards to both the Afghanistan crisis and Tampa, reducing and spin doctoring both to suit the campaign. Look no further than the Liberals posters proclaiming: “WE decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come” This may have been an excerpt from the White Australia Policy for all it reeked of racism, populism and xenophobia.

Through their actions the Liberal Party afforded the ALP with no real choice but to support the Government on this issue. If they didn’t want to risk political suicide they had to agree to support the Government on this issue, to ensure that there was some focus returned to the real issues affecting Australians: education, health, employment and aged care. In the outcome it didn’t appear to matter, however, they took a decision, and the debate as to whether it was worth the loss of previous Labor voters will rage for some time. What is clear in this result is that the majority of Australians appear to have desired for a return to the certainties and isolationist policies of the late 1950’s and this can only be to Australia’s detriment. By electing a conservative, racist government the Australian people have ensured that Australia will continue to be regarded as a country of xenophobes and more distressingly a country that cannot, or is unwilling to, be involved in a globalised society. Whether people like it or not, Australia will still be a destination for the desperate and destitute of the world, it will still need to trade with other countries, it will still have to respond to the global situation. Australia cannot and should not become an isolationist country whose politicians play on this fear to suit their own ends.

Australia should welcome people from all over the world, refugees, asylum seekers, and other alike. Australia has the resources, the wealth and the ability to welcome these people to our country, as we welcomed the refugees after WWII. Australia should set an example, as one of the world’s wealthiest countries, that Australia is a country that accepts, educates, welcomes, and assists all people of the world irrespective of race, gender, background, ethnicity or socio-economic position. The Liberal government, will not achieve this.

Regards, Tom

One of the most gracious speeches since Il Duce

Congrats to Suzanne, Craig, et al.

I haven’t seen such gracious victory speeches since Il Duce promised to get the trains running on time. I especially love how you can sound shriller than a 747 jet engine winding up as you complain about the bleating classes.

I want to make money. But I don’t want to do it by shitting on all and sundry. Call me a compassionate capitalist. That’s why I’m so pissed off about the way the government is handling refugees. It doesn’t even make good economic sense.

Would it help you if those who oppose Howard’s less-than-inspirational politicking stuck with a simpler message, put in terms you’d use/understand. Perhaps: “Youse are all fucked and can go and get fucked!” I think that sums up the complexity of the issues, don’t you.

The most interesting part is no-one really wants any of them. We now have three independents in the lower house. Peter Andren got in without preferences! Tony Windsor took Sinker’s old seat with 45.8 primary! Mad Bob shat it in! Everyone’s fluffing about over the Princess, forgetting that the Hayseed’s party is about two campaigns away from oblivion. The Libs even pinched Farrer, Two Minute Tim’s old seat. All this despite a withering One Nation vote. The Nats are going to have to declare themselves an endangered species and seek endorsement from the Greens at this rate.

The Libs had the worse primary vote in three decades with 42.69% (which makes Howard only a little more popular than Billy McMahon). Labor’s contribution to the Federation celebrations was a re-enactment of the pathetic primary vote akin to when Scullin was booted in the 30s. I reckon the punters are smart enough to know they have to pick one of the bastards at the end of the day – the party faithful tell me this election set new lows in the number of people who’d take their how-to-vote cards – so they chose the Battler over the Bomber. It makes sense. Howard might have given us the shits, but Beazley looked like dysentery. But choosing strychnine over arsenic doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve won. Labor dullness is now set to get worse under Crean. John may finally decide a republic’s the way to go and declare himself president for life.

With a bit of luck, his first edict will be outlawing the media, so all we get is the weekly newsletter of the local MP featuring an average of 16 photos of him/her opening cake stalls/GST compliance offices. Hopefully that will satisfy the whingers still bitching about ABC/Fairfax/Crikey/a-man-they once-met conspiracy theories. To put it in terms you (and my teenage daughter) would appreciate – Get a life..


These critics need a bex and a good lie down

Crikey, I’ve argued with you this year too, but gee, these sore winners should go have a Bex and a good lie down. Then see if they can argue with some facts:

Ruddock Howard and Reith used the ‘child throwing’ incident to further denigrate these desperate and vulnerable people.

Reith lied about the Navy video, lied about the still photos and when caught out refused to speak to the media for the last day or two.

Howard and Ruddock lie when they say Australia is second in the world per capita in accepting refugees; our quota is the second most generous, but most comparable countries don’t have a quota. On accepting refugees, per capita we’re about 32nd. We didn’t even fill our quota last year!

The ‘Pacific solution’ is hugely expensive ($3 million per day on some estimates), is unsustainable, (we’re rapidly running out of places to dump ’em) and is not achieving its stated objective of stopping the boats.

I could go on, but that’ll do for a start.

Looking forward to another 3 years (oops, 2 years) of Rodentry.


There were only a few votes in it

There is much bullshit flying about why Labor lost and the Coalition won. Whatever the seat majority is, the election was close, probably half a percent less of the two party preferred national vote would have lost it for the Coalition. In two party preferred terms the popular votes swapped around from last time, when 51% of voters went for a Labor government but wasted their votes in safe seats.

So just a few votes the other way and Beazley would now be getting congrats all round, we’d all be pontificating on why Howard lost.

Having said that, we all know how he climbed from his electoral grave of earlier this year. The one area you can give Howard credit for, I suppose, is sensible economic management. But economic reform inevitably produces winners and losers, and Howard’s way of dealing with the latter is always to give them someone to blame. It’s a trick that can only work in the short term, but if well timed …

Finally, re Antony Green. I think he is an absolute master at his craft (although he was verbally swapping his parties and states around a bit on Saturday night), he is the best, but his early seat predictions, I would hazard a guess, are based on the current state of the pendulum. (I’m getting a little esoteric – sorry). Ie if you plot a 2% swing to the Coalition on the Mackerras pendulum representation of the seats before last Saturday, you would probably get something like 30 seats for Coalition. Something similar with the Labor vote in 1998 would give them the majority he predicted. Just guessing that this is what he’s doing, but if he is it is operating on a bad assumption.


We should have thrown the third termers out


You wrote …

“The Crikeys were pleased with our vote in the seat of Melbroune. We both voted for a professional wizard and independent called James Ferrari with the idea being to choose a candidate who polled less 4 per cent and therefore did not get the $1.72 in public funding for each vote.”

This is an interesting observation as I read somewhere that some 15 Coalition MP who first won their seats in 1996 were up to earn $1m in super if they managed to win their seats this time. Such as Jackie Kelly and Ross Cameron would have lost most of their huge super had they lost their seats. Pity the public didn’t exercise some taxpayer savings – could have funded some hospitals instead of going into massive super payouts.

You may have saved the taxpayer $7 but I tried to save the taxpayer $1m by putting Cameron last.

You wrote …

“Afterall, it was a grey power victory for John Howard more than anything else. ”

My thoughts exactly. This whole country is being run for the oldies. No one else seems to count. After all they are the only ones with time to ring up talkback radio and whinge – and boy do they whinge.

I feel sorry for the younger people who not only have to pay HECS, fund their own private heath and super and then after all that have to pay more and more taxes for all the elderly who never had to pay for their own retirement, health and education when they were earning their salaries. Its about time someone starts calling a spade a spade in this area.

You wrote …

“The one ALP branch that must hang their head in shame is NSW. They should have won in Parramatta, Lindsay and McArthur.”

The common theme on these three seats is that the ALP selected former mayors of the large councils in the area. Borgor was mayor of parramatta, Oakes was mayor of Campbelltown and bradbury was mayor of Penrith. Also all three have union backgrounds and/or work for the ALP. It’s all so predictable and why do the ALp think a profile in local politics still works on a federal level. Maybe they’ll have to do more Pat Farmers – draft in some prominent sportspeople or somesuch. Andrew Johns (rugby league) has a miners/union background, John Eales is a good Catholic boy, maybe Cathy Freeman wont be able to get the weight off. In any event, Labor have got to look at their candidates.


Despairing about both sides

Dear Stephen,

As if having to tolerate the smugness of little Johnny was not enough, what is the bet that we will now have to stomach the mealy-mouthed tributes to big Kim as he bows out of leadership politics. If he is so decent, then his stance on asylum seekers was cowardly and self-serving, or just plainly stupid. There can be no other possible inference drawn. And what a choice we voters will be faced with once Howard power-walks into the sunset – Crean and Costello. Wow, Monash Law has turned out some colourless duds over the years, but can you beat that pair?

Yours in absolute despair


Why do we fear these foreigners

As I see it the issue the Labor Party missed was not that our position on asylum seekers is racist. The question they had to address was why do we fear foreigners in the way we do. It may be obvious that it is a reaction to globalisation, but the point needed to be made to the public. The politicians have still not sold the benefits to the average voter. Labor also lost because the local candidates were poor and the advertising campaign did not counter Howard’s backflip advertisement.

Finally do you think the small “L” liberal just couldn’t bring themselves to vote the coalition out. Surely we are not saying the combined labor left and small L Liberals total 462,000 Green voting souls. The biggest representation was in Victoria and Tasmania the rest are coming from a very small base.

I thought Beazley may have got over the line if the Greens preferenced up to Labor and the small L’s either gave to Labor or the Greens.

All the best, Mark

Crikey readers are thin-skinned

Stephen, I remember you saying once that journalists were thin skinned …how about your readers!

Although I don’t agree with some stuff you guys put on the site, I would never be so thin skinned as to write some of the crap you got after writing that post-election piece.

In fact, living with 3 hard line rightists for half the year, I’ve become immune to the usual “fuckin lefty, communist bleeding heart, hippy uni student!” It’s all fun.

I think the problem is that people are so set in their ways. They are so attached to their ideology they don’t have their own opinions.

Although you guys at Crikey are always very balanced, when you clearly go to one side on one particular issue, you always cop an earful.

You see, those liberals that replied scathingly to your post-election article called you a lefty blah blah. They immediately forgot your stance AGAINST the unions with Ansett. They, like most conformists, are devoid of memory.

I have said it before, for any country to move forward, people have to stop attaching themselves to ideology.

I’m considering running as an independent candidate at the next federal election for my home seat.

Cheers, Troy

Time for cool heads

Dear Stephen,

Having read a lot of the emails I wish to call for cool heads – particular those on the right, despite their man getting up, are feeling quite nasty.

As a die hard Labor supporter who occupies liberal demographic, The Liberal Party won this election on the simple14% rule (and generally everything else was a red herring)!

That is, if you add the unemployment rate to the variable interest rate, have a half decent leader then your home scott free – just like elections for the past 40 years have proved. Why, because all the Aussie proles care about is a job and a low interest rate to pay of their mortgage! That’s it!

So why was the Tampa and war an important factor in this campaign. Well the pleb’s realise that it’s a bad and nasty world out there which is in recession or heading into recession. And they believe that Johnny will protect their jobs and low interest rates – even if he has to destroy public institutions likeTelstra, ABC,hospitals schools etc to do it! This is his mandate. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again! – perhaps? Woe, Woe, Woe, unto the Libs if Oz goes into recession, unemployment increases, or interest rates rise, and petrol too! They will be crucified at the next election, like Fraser in ’83 was – and by a former ACTU leader (a drover’s would do too?) !

It’s odds on that economically the next 3 yrs will be a lot harder. Therefore, it’s probably good that Labor lost. Had they blown the budget keeping Oz out of recession (and failing), Costello would of have an absolute field day, and Labor a one term wonder! So in 2 yrs time Rodent will hand over the poison chalice (ie leadership plus bad economic data – well he wants to go out looking good?) to Smirk – gee thanks mate!?

So what about the refugee issue. Well it’s quite well known that in general Aussies are racist under the surface. {As an Italian with an unfortunate un-Anglo first name of Mario – I copped a bucket full for nearly all the years of my pubic schooling and more subtly when working for BHP. So with Mid-east Moslems – forget it! (However people are more relaxed if a speak In a an ocker accent)}. Johny played the wedge on this one, and it reinforced to people that he is a strong leader who will protect them – see above.

And what a wonderful thing the GST is! It’s great having pensioners pay tax, and the proceeds of this going to those in higher income groups (well at least before bracket creep creeps in) or subsidising privileged schools, hospitals etc…

The is why the GST, ABC, Telstra or anything else Labor put up didn’t didn’t bite with the electorate.

Cheers, Mario (despite what you aussies think – I quite like my name!)

Get some decency back into politics

Having always been a lefty, I have of course not enjoyed the past few years. However, what I most disliked was the lack of vision in the person who was Prime Minister (for, of course, how can you have any forward vision when you are always looking back).

However, this is the saddest of all wins for any party in Australia for many decades because of WHY they won. I just hope that all the left leaning members of both parties can now start to put some heat on the pollies to get some decency back into politics and that not too much irretrievable damage is done by the Rodent in his next term.


Thank god for Bob Brown

Although dreading another Howard term, I was especially pleased with Bob Brown being re-elected and the overall success of the Greens.

It is unfortunate that there aren’t more politicians like Bob Brown. In a few decades, the next generations will be saying: why didn’t we listen to Bob Brown?

Just as Galileo claimed the earth wasn’t the centre of the universe – and was subsequently laughed at and put under house arrest for not conforming to popular belief – our elites claim Brown is wrong and unprofessional.

The future generations will say: Why didnt they spend more on environmental technology? They seemed to be only concerned with the immediate future. What a remarkable lack of foresight! What a shortsighted people they were. Selfish pricks, didn’t think about us!


Wedge something to do with your undies

GOOD GOD! The Pommies are playing great rugby & the Liberals have won the election. An obvious disaster for world politics. The Taliban rulers must be quaking in their boots now that 52 odd % of the Australian population have voted for Howard, Costello & Abbott – who’s on first? Talk about a sucker punch.

How about explaining ” wedge” to other than Crikey readers & insiders. It’s not hard to work out but to most it just means uncomfortable undies. Come to think of it, something that you’ve go to wear but is not necessarily comfortable about sums it up.


Howard committed to nothing but power


A sad old day. There was a story on Mungo MacCallum in yesterday’s SMH/AGE? “Spectrum”.

He said, “Now when I look at John Howard, I see someone totally committed to his own power. No vision of any kind prepared to set Australian against Australian, work the divisive line, the race line, the hate line, the fear line.”

I hope the ALP takes this opportunity to get itself in order — and I do not mean Simon Crean.


Destruction of social capital

From my perspective, Howard’s re-election is a disaster for Australia both economically and socially.

The really scary thing is that ALL Howard’s ‘policies’ revolve around destroying the social capital that has been built up in Australia over many years. The social capital – live and let live & a fair go for all – has allowed Australia to integrate many refugees and immigrants without problems.

Australia’s social capital is/was built on a secular approach – particularly in education. When you have the ‘italian catholic’, ‘european jew’, ‘british anglican’, ‘arabic muslim’ and the ‘confucian chinese’ all going to the same school and growing up together, they all learn tolerance and understanding of each other. You then get the relatively tolerant society we have in Australia.

In contrast, Howard’s sectarian approach, particularly in education, is destroying secular social fabric. Funding and subsidising sectarian interest groups’ schools with federal funds not only creates excesses ($100m for the category one schools) but creates an ‘us and them’ mentality amongst children and parents. The groups fight each other (divide and rule) and intolerance grows as a result.

If we don’t want Australia to have the socio-religious problems of Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the USA we need, as a first step, to strengthen (not weaken) our secular approach to education — that is inclusive of public education.

The long-term impact of Howard’s sectarian education practices are not to be underestimated!

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