Is it the private lessons
from Paul Keating? The usually mild-mannered Labor foreign affairs
spokesman Kevin Rudd lashes out at academics Stephen Barton and Peter
van Onselen over their Australian feature yesterday on the AWB scandal in the Oz’sletters page this morning.

“Stephen Barton’s and Peter van Onselen’s attack on Labor’s
prosecution of the Howard Government’s role in the $300 million wheat
board scandal shows John Howard is mightily sensitive about the impact
of this scandal on his much-vaunted national security credentials,”
writes Kruddy. “But what their article failed to declare is that both
are former Liberal staffers, not simply independent academics…”

Er… yes, Kevin. They don’t quite conduct themselves the way Greg Barns
or I carry on, but that’s a pretty long bow to draw. Particularly with
van Onselen.

There isn’t much time left between now and Christmas, but Kruddy might
like to look at just two stand out papers by van Onselen and another one
of us terrible ex-Liberal staffers, Wayne Errington; Voter Tracking Software: the Dark Side of Technology and Democracy and The Government Members’ Secretariat: The beating heart of Australia’s PR state.

If you, dear subscriber, are short on reading time this festive season,
don’t worry. You get a very clear idea of their subject matter – and
their criticisms of the Howard Government – from the titles.

And before he talks about former Liberal staffers who are not simply
independent academics, Kruddy might like to talk to the comrades in van
Onselen’s home state of WA. They recently had him along to talk to
their state conference.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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