Border patrol. So George Brandis has put his hands over his eyes and promised faithfully (promise, Your Honour) that he will not read the documents obtained by the raid on the lawyer representing the East Timorese government in its stoush with us over oil and gas in the Timor Sea. But if he’s not going to read them, why did Australian authorities feel the need to raid the lawyer’s offices in the first place? What were they looking for? And what were the “security issues” they were concerned about? Could it be that the case Australia intends to put in the International Court of Justice is — ahem — not very strong? (What’s Ian Callinan suddenly doing on the ICJ panel, by the way? I suspect this story has much further to go.)

The East Timorese, not to put too fine a point on it, are deeply pissed off, and they’re not the only ones. Our brand-new “adults in charge” government has also annoyed another of our neighbours — Indonesia — to the extent that a little light sabre-rattling has begun.

As a rather pointed letter from James McCardle to The Sydney Morning Herald points out, Kevin Rudd was ridiculed when (while still PM) he warned of just such a possible outcome in response to the bellicose “turn back the boats” policy of the Coalition. Winning votes in marginal seats at home, it seems, does not necessarily win friends in other places. Incursions by our navy (which apparently cannot navigate properly — also a worry) into Indonesian territorial waters have led to Indonesia deciding to send a warship (A WARSHIP!) to patrol its naval boundaries.

Holy shit! Bullying small-fry East Timor is one thing, but Indonesia has a population of 250 million. Guys (and apart from Julie Bishop, you are all guys), word to the wise: if you want to throw your weight around internationally, could you pick on people your own size or smaller? And, while you’re at it, could you be a tad more professional about the intelligence work (spying is best done secretly, I believe)? That East Timor thingy is simply mortifying.

Speaking of “turning back the boats” (and, unless you’re the minister in charge, what else do we talk about these days?) I liked an article in The Mercury, which finally threw Godwin’s Law to the winds. And also this cartoon by Judy Horacek, courtesy of Kerryn Goldsworthy:


It’s getting hot in here. Inside our beloved borders this week, however, all was not well. We saw Adelaide dubbed the hottest city on earth and Australia the hottest country but, hey, thanks to good old private enterprise and the morality of the market, only a few people lost their cool, so to speak.

We also saw the tragedy and devastation of bushfires due to the extreme heat across Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, with homes destroyed and one life lost. Climate scientists warned that such events are likely to get more intense and more frequent, leading to shock-horror headlines like this:


I couldn’t help wondering if what we gain on the repeal of the carbon tax we will lose many times over on the cost of home insurance.

Just when you think we’ve come so far … Anyway, I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when the present simply becomes too much to bear (and the future too awful to contemplate) I like to turn back to the comforting certainties of the past, so thanks are due to Slate magazine for this inspirational document:

Sarah Palin steps in. It is particularly appropriate given that this week brought Martin Luther King Day. Yet, just as I was restoring my faith in human nature by luxuriating in the maturity, decency and achievements of the past, I was returned with a bang to the nastiness of the present:

But at least Palin’s remarks provided satirical fuel for a few finalists for tweet of the week:

rex hupke

 And this story gave Bette Midler an idea:

But the winning tweet (Ta-da) is apropos of nothing in particular, except that it chimed so perfectly with my own response to so much of the news this week:

Onward, Christian soldiers. I also absolutely loved this discussion about whether Christians are discriminated against between Cristina Odone and Robin Ince across two editions of the New Statesman. Ince’s brilliantly reasoned response reminded me that in some ways the world really is becoming a better and more interesting place.

Another black mark against Christie. And this just in about troubled New Jersey Governor and erstwhile Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, a reminder of why education must remain public. Bon voyage for now …

Peter Fray

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