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Sep 23, 2014

Abbott's (and Shorten's) lies lead Australia to a sinister place

The government has based its extensions of national security powers, and its involvement in Iraq, on lies. And they will damage us like the previous Iraq war damaged us.

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It was the most worrying and wrong-headed speech by a national leader since, well, the last time we went to war under false pretences in Iraq. Tony Abbott’s national security statement to Parliament yesterday — strongly backed by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten — takes Australia into a very dark place, and it does so based on what can only be described as lies — unless you accept that the government of Australia is profoundly ignorant.

It can only be a lie, or a reflection of an implausibly vast ignorance, to seriously maintain, as Abbott did yesterday, that Islamic State (also called ISIS or ISIL) represents any sort of “unprecedented” threat to Australia. IS is no more an unprecedented threat than it is an “exisential threat”, as the Attorney-General absurdly labelled it last week. This is a group of terrorists who are, as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States have noted, unable to mount any terrorist operations against  the US. This is a group that, in its febrile statement of yesterday calling for anyone insane or evil enough to heed its demands to attack Westerners, admitted the difficulties in organising such attacks, suggesting that if all else failed they should pick up a rock and hit someone with it, or spit in strangers’ faces. This is the group whose idea of terror in Australia isn’t 9/11 or even public transport bombings but the murder of a random passer-by — although, bizarrely, at least one media outlet on the weekend was trying to claim such attacks would be somehow more damaging than a mass casualty attack.

Then again, that’s one of the iron-clad rules of the War on Terror — each threat is always hyped as somehow worse than the last one.

And it can only be a lie to insist, as Abbott and Shorten both do, that our participation in the attack on Iraq will not make the risk of terrorism in Australia greater. It’s a lie that voters, as today’s Essential Report shows, simply don’t buy. The government is literally using the Bush line that Islamic State simply hates us for our freedom. After Crikey reported yesterday that the Australian Federal Police had been gagged from offering its own assessment of whether the Iraq deployment made terrorism a greater risk, the Attorney-General’s Department eventually sent us its “whole of government” response.

“ISIL and their followers in Australia do not hate us for what we do, they hate us for who we are and how we live,” an AGD bureaucrat said. “They hate that fact that we are free, pluralist, tolerant, and welcoming.” You can read the full response here.

AGD, the Prime Minister and Bill Shorten were, alas, humiliated within hours when Islamic State’s ludicrously over-the-top statement calling for the killing of Westerners emerged, specifically targeting “the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State” and referring to Australia “sending its legions” against IS.

Faced with the inconvenience of IS attributing the need for terrorism in the West to the attacks on itself, the Prime Minister’s office was reported to have issued a bizarrely self-contradictory statement that “Australian agencies regard the statement issued today by ISIL calling for attacks against members of the international coalition, including Australians, as genuine. ISIL will claim that our involvement in this international effort is the reason they are targeting us, but these people do not attack us for what we do, but for who we are and how we live.”

That is, you should believe IS when it says things that fit the government’s War on Terror narrative, but not when it says things that don’t fit it.

The government has built its case for extensions of national security powers and war in Iraq on these two lies — lies that, as we’ll see, are self-reinforcing. This is the same War on Terror cycle that has previously been played out when the 2003 attack on Iraq made Westerners less safe from terrorism and that, in turn, was used to justify further extensions of powers and continued military intervention in Pakistan and Yemen over the course of the last decade. Now, the government’s decision to attack IS has made Australia less safe, and that reduction in safety is being used to justify both the decision to attack IS and further curbs on our freedoms.

And Abbott’s most chilling words yesterday were his blunt demand that liberty be sacrificed for security:

“Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.  There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others.”

But contrary to what Abbott implies, the balance between freedom and security in Australia has been relentlessly shifting for over a decade, and it has always shifted away from freedom. This is a “delicate balance” that only ever shifts in favour of more government power and less individual freedom — the freedom that Abbott insists is why IS really wants to kill us.

They hate us for our freedom, so we curb our freedoms. Well, there’s some logic there.

As for “more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others”, there could be few more worrying threats by a political leader, especially when it is clear that the “some” will be drawn almost exclusively from one community. The Muslim men deemed to have been using their phones in some sort of suspicious manner at a footy match; the baseless detention of a senior Muslim cleric by Customs; the dozens of homes of Muslim Australians raided last week without any charges resulting; the strangely convenient first use of the hitherto “unworkable” preventive detention orders (which were created to deal with the terror threat created by the Iraq invasion) on Muslim citizens — all reflect that this is about the harassment of a single minority.

And that harassment, to borrow Abbott’s phrasing, isn’t because of anything Muslim Australians have done, but because of who they are.

It is also becoming painfully clear that the strategy the government has embarked on with the Americans in Iraq is likely to fail. That’s the view of Tony Blair, who knows a thing or two about launching attacks in Iraq based on lies: echoing the CIA’s view that the enterprise is “doomed to failure“, he says airstrikes won’t be enough and Western ground forces will be needed. And confirming the FBI’s claim that support for IS has been strengthened by airstrikes, there is evidence airstrikes have prompted a massive surge in IS recruitment. Almost as if that was exactly what IS had in mind when it started trying to goad the West into attacking it.

And while the Abbott government is helping make IS stronger, regional powers appear reticent.* Saudi Arabia won’t commit any military forces to the fight against IS, the country’s richest man Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud says. “This does not really affect our country explicitly,” he said. IS “doesn’t really affect” Saudia Arabia: the Prince sounds … what’s Tony Abbott’s word? … almost “insouciant”.

We’ve been here before, obviously — the quagmire of Iraq, Western intervention that strengthens terrorists, the curtailment of the freedoms, the systematic harassment of Muslims. As John Howard popped up on the weekend to remind us, some still insist the 2003 Iraq War wasn’t based on lies, but simply poor intelligence. Well, there’s no doubt this time around: lies are at the heart of this new Iraq venture, and it will take us back to the same dark place as before.

* Update: it’s been reported that Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates played a role in today’s US air strikes within Syria against IS, although what role each played will be revealed later today Australian time.

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65 thoughts on “Abbott’s (and Shorten’s) lies lead Australia to a sinister place

  1. klewso

    “It’s an ill wind etc….”?

  2. klewso

    Dog-whistles at ten paces – they throw a few words our way and “we” retaliate by clipping our freedom a little bit more?

  3. Nick Seidenman

    Tony Abbott and his gang are little more than George W. Bush 2.0. Abbott makes fewer verbal gaffs (or, at least, the press doesn’t make as much hay with them here), but the selling off and/or tearing down of public institutions and services, the use of fear to get the ovine masses to give up their freedoms for the illusion of security — security against a threat Abbott & Co have created and hyped themselves — is the same agenda Americans suffered through for eight years under GWB.

    Your comment “They hate us for our freedom, so we curb our freedoms. Well, there’s some logic there.” is spot-on. In the US we kept saying this to ourselves — and anyone who’d listen, but to no avail. Americans didn’t get it then, and I don’t see much indication that Australians are getting it now.

    If terrorism is the use of fear to achieve political ends, how is the Abbott government’s use of fear to achieve THEIR ends any different from that of (other) terrorists?

  4. Vincent O'Donnell

    May I respectfully suggest to the Attorney-General that the anti-terror legislation, presently before parliament, need one further amendment.

    In the event of an incident, judged by the National Security Committee to be a terrorist attack, the government should have the power ‘to restrict the rights of personal freedom (habeas corpus), freedom of opinion, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organise and assemble, and the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property and travel, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.’

    Such an edict has, Mr Abbott and Senator Brandis may be assured, impeccable credentials. Such a curtailment of freedom should get IS off our back and we can all live in peace.

  5. Daly

    Spot on, Bernard. An excellent piece of logical analysis.
    Just one year into the term of government and the legacy is distruction of the social fabric and back at war. Both these experiments got a fail in the US but Tony re does them.
    Agreed Nick S. I despair and worry for those boys in body bags and all of our freedoms.

  6. mark hipgrave

    I’m scared Tony. Scared shitless. If what you say is true I want an armed guard out the front of my place 24/7 to look after me. Make that two. And a Blackhawks overhead. And a hug from Julie B and David J. Bring the troops and planes home. We need them here.

  7. Bob's Uncle

    We’ve come a long way baby.

    In 2001 it took unprecedented and shocking mass casualties to goad us into an unwinnable war in the middle east.

    Now it takes a threat to murder a single person while filming on a mobile phone.

    Maybe the next war will be prompted by a vaguely Arab-looking guy talking loudly on his phone in a train carriage.

  8. Tom Jones

    Last night’s Q&A showed how much terror is perpetrated by those who are supposedly protecting us. What is it that allows an organisation like ADL to continue to make threats against Moslems with impunity? Why aren’t the police protecting young women who wear a hijab and why doesn’t the PM as Minister for Women call out those responsible for race hate threats and violence?

  9. GideonPolya

    In addition to helping the US kill scores of thousands of Sunni rebels and collateral civilians, the Australian involvement in the Obama Iraq War (a) clearly increases the threat of terrorism to Australia and (b) seriously increases the vastly greater threat to 600,000 peaceful Muslim Australians from red-neck xenophobes and Islamophobes.

    However the Australian and US involvement in the Obama Iraq war also violates International Law about war crimes in 12 areas:
    (1) they do not have UN Security Council sanction;
    (2) they have not been attacked or threatened by Iraq , IS or Syria ;
    (3) no permission was given by the attacked countries (there are 3 governments in Syria and 3 governments in Iraq , each variously involved in the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War, respectively);
    (4) they will use illegitimate weapons e.g. white phosphorus, weapons involving use of depleted uranium, and Australian-targetted drone attacks that cannot distinguish military combatants from civilians ;
    (5) they will no doubt (as in the previous 1990-2011 Iraq War) target civilian populations through economic disruption, economic blockade, attacks on infrastructure and urban areas ;
    (6) there has already been mass torture and killing of Iraqi Sunni prisoners by the US puppet Iraqi Government and mass murder of Iraqi Sunni civilians by Shia militias;
    (7) there is certain to be gross violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War as in other US war zones from Somali to NW Pakistan where since 1990 avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation have totalled about 9 million;
    (8) the stepped up Obama Iraq War and Syrian War will add to the carnage in those countries amounting to 0.2 million violent deaths in Syria since 2011 and 1.7 million violent deaths in Iraq since 1990 (with comparable numbers of non-violent deaths from war-imposed deprivation, this constituting a Syrian Holocaust and an Iraqi Holocaust;
    (9) the Obama Iraq War and Syrian War addition to the carnage in those countries and Obama’s intention to destroy all Islamic rebels “wherever they are” all constitute genocide as defined by the UN Genocide Convention i.e. “ acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group;
    (10) just as the US Alliance has failed to take reasonable steps to avoid the endless war against Indigenous rebels from Mali to NW Pakistan, so the US and the US Alliance determination to exterminate such people “wherever they are” means decades more of war and massive avoidable mortality from war-imposed deprivation;
    (11) the Obama Iraq War and Syrian War will involve the active and passive mass murder of children in these impoverished countries in which about half the population are children;
    (12) the Obama Iraq War, the Obama Syrian War and indeed the explicitly adumbrated Obama War on Indigenous Muslim rebels “wherever they are” is an obscene continuing “endless” US war for hegemony and fossil fuels imposed not just on Iraqis and Syrians but on Muslims from Africa to South Asia (see Gideon Polya, “Obama Iraq War And Obama Syrian War Will Both Involve US Alliance In 12 Types Of War Crimes” , Countercurrents, 13 September 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya130914.htm ).

    Decent pro-peace Australians will reject the mendacious Coalition war criminals, vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.

  10. David Hand

    OK Bernard,
    You’ve got your big statement on the record so that in future you can say you told them so.

    I’d like to get some understanding of your alternative though.

    Don’t intervene militarily in Iraq, though I do not share your trust in ISIL that Abbott’s warmongering is the only reason they want to chop an Aussie’s head off.

    Don’t curb our freedoms? You mean let people come and go freely to Syria? Let Sharrouf and his kids back in? Let the chatter about terror in Australia go on? Don’t even listen to the chatter?

    “..the balance between freedom and security in Australia has been relentlessly shifting for over a decade, and it has always shifted away from freedom.” Well of course it has. The western public will not tolerate another 911 or Bali bombing. The erosion of freedom is a demonstration of how spectacularly successful Bin Laden was.

    Do you recall 911 Bernard? The rest of us do.

  11. Ingle Knight

    When will Shorten realise that we’re not as naive as we were 10 years ago, and Abbott isn’t the salesman that Howard was?

  12. Tamas Calderwood

    Bernard – I think you are conflating “unprecedented” with “greatest”.

    The ISIL threat isn’t our greatest ever threat but it has no precedent.

    We haven’t had orders out of Syria to kill random Australians before. We haven’t had photos of Aussie kids holding up heads before. We haven’t seen Australians executing foreign soldiers in cold blood before.

    Furthermore, while it’s easy to criticise the government’s response, as David Hand asks: what’s your alternative course of action?

  13. The Pav

    I feel that it is particularly appropraite to compare this current “terror alert” to Howard taking us to war for WMD

    Why do claims made by security agencies accepted as gospel?

    Shorten is pathetic in not distancing himself and his party from this all to obvious beat up.

    I am willing to bet that Syrians are as ignorant of Australia as Australians asre ignorant of Syria or Lambie is ignorant of Sharia Law

  14. MJPC

    BK, thank you; excellent analysis.
    DH, I recall 911; wasn’t that when the airliners were flown into the world trade centre towers by members of the group that the US supported and built up in Afghanistan to fight the Russians?
    Didn’t the same US support the current crop of terrorists against Assad in Syria who have morphed into ISIL?
    Just who are we fighting against in Iraq or Syria (if it comes to that)?
    “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one” Benjamin Franklin; as true today as 200 years ago.

  15. Brad Sprigg

    It is utterly absurd that the same man who angrily defended the right of Australians to be bigots now claims that terrorists hate us for our tolerance.

    This government is making Orwell look like an optimist.

  16. The Pav

    Dear David,

    The true “delicate balance” that Abbott is really concerned with is that of the poles.

    Yes d, Don’t intervene in Iraq.We’ve done that for over ten years and look how well that has worked

    Don’t curb our freedoms….Why do terrorists work for them…We defear them by not kowtowing and preserving our values.

    If chatter is so dangerous then lets close the CWA as well and Parliament!

    The erosion of freedom demostrates how succesful Bin Laden has been…Agreed but only with our compliance.

    He who sacrifices freedom for safety is neither free nor safe…This is as true now as it ever was.

  17. Neutral

    The whole charade is working as evidenced in the 2 point uptick for the government in the latest newspoll.

    Mission Accomplished. So bring back the budget emergency. Oh wait…

  18. Gerryod

    So I guess what you are saying, Bernard is that it would have been better not to have acted on the information last week about the possibility of beheadings in Sydney – just let them get on with it? What effect do you think that would have had on the Muslim community?

    I don’t disagree with your critiquing the government actions, but it is always easier to wait for an action to take place and then throw in the criticisms, isn’t it?

  19. David Hand

    Lovely ideology Pav.

    Let Sharrouf and his kids back into Australia and we will be both more free and more safe, right?

  20. Draco Houston

    I hope Shorten doesn’t last as leader this term. Worst opposition leader ever. Worse than Brendan Nelson even.

  21. Nick Seidenman

    @Gerryod, #15 — We have only word of a government of proven liars that there was any such information.

  22. The Pav

    David,

    Sharrouf is a grade A twat and desrves to be held accountable for his parenting but he is not a threat just hot air. Please show what has he actually done. Let him in then take him to task for his parenting skills ( if one can call them that)

    He is just a poser

  23. The Pav

    Gerroyd

    If there is a real threat then why is only one still in custody….A bunch of hot air is not a threat.

    If this was such a success then why are further powers needed?

    Since the authorities said at the time of the raisds that the only real information they had was from concerned members of the Muslim community who do not hold with these radicals why do we need draconian security powers. Why not encourage the community to cooperate and not vilify them

    Why was the terror threat from the IRA not met the same way but was ultimately defeated. Is it because they were white Catholics?

  24. The Pav

    BTW Davis it is not ideology….Just common sense and a belief in in our western democratic values.

    Freedoms always wins over oppression we just need to have the courage of our convictions.

  25. The Pav

    Another point is that this is the same intelligence community that assured us there were WMD ( despite quite obvious evidence that ther wasn’t) so why ot why should we have any confidence in them or these warmongering poll manipulation right wing politicians???

    Domino Theory anyone? we know how accurate that was.

  26. CML

    Bravo!, Bernard!
    High time someone told it like it is.
    As for Shorten – Neutral has it right. Not only has the rAbbott increased his vote by 2 points, but more importantly Shorten has gone backwards. Hopefully, the Labor Party will come to its senses and learn something from this.
    It is NOT alright to keep agreeing with the rAbbott, Bill. I don’t care how many ‘security’ briefings you lot in the Opposition have been given, we don’t believe what you say either!
    How about you grow a pair and do a Crean. As a very long time Labor supporter, I have to say you DON’T represent my views on this issue. We should get the hell out of Iraq and especially Syria. If those neanderthals want to kill each other in barbaric fashion, be my guest. Just don’t involve Australians!!

  27. Honest Johnny

    Beware the Double Dissolution election. As soon as the opportunity presents itself (the LNP pull ahead in the polls), Abbott will call an election and demand the population’s support for his great efforts in continuing the fight against terrorism. Shorten will be wedged and neutralised. A victory on par will Harold Holt’s landslide in 1966 (when the people were initially enthusiastic about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war),will result.

  28. Duncan Gilbey

    David Hand and Tamas Calderwood.

    An open ended incursion into Iraq will do precisely nothing to lessen the risk of IS attacks in Australia.

  29. Bob's Uncle

    Hasn’t everyone heard? IS are soooo yesterday. Now it’s Khorasan we are being told to be scared of.

    Keep up people!

  30. David Hand

    Ah yes Pav,
    “Freedoms always wins over oppression we just need to have the courage of our convictions.” I must drop an email about it to Alan Henning and John Cantlie to make them feel better. Anyone got an email address for darkest Syria?

  31. ianjohnno

    I am beginning to think that politicians in Abbott’s beloved Anglosphere are more afraid of their own citizens than any terrorists, real or confected.

    A policy of a mixture of rescue (of threatened minorities) and containment is more appropriate. Let them stew in their own hate; they are likely to self-destruct. You might even get the Saudis on board with that.

    Shorten’s performance is, as usual, pathetic.

  32. Chris Hartwell

    These raids were executed under existing powers afforded to ASIO and the AFP. If they have successfully stopped a terrorist attack, then that demonstrates that further powers are not needed.

  33. luno merc

    Thinking about Shorten – You know I think they have got some dirt on him (maybe the royal commission ?) .Its hard to explain his spectacular failure in not stepping up and finishing abbott off. Shorten puzzles me.. Because for abbott to do this miserable business he needs Shorten to agree with him .Abbott and this government are a lost cause their drowning in there own insanity .The election is the only thing that will stop them. They have really cut loose abbott’s going for the record on something , Im not sure what it is but hes going to be remembered, ill give him that.Somethings got to give .

  34. seriously?

    @ david hand. I and everyone else of course recalls 911. BUT why does the Australian military waging war etc etc (or whatever you want to call it) in the name of a “humanitarian mission” in Iraq AGAIN “save” us from 911 happening in Australia? Many years of waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan to supposedly save us from another 911 (and/or wipe out the perpetrators and/or eliminate Saddam’s WMD – whatever – just insert fluid justification) has put us right where we are now. Why should I believe the same ruling classes this time they know best? Why won’t a repeat of the same “plan” (if you want it call it that) produce anything other than the same outcome?

    Seems to me ISIL are taking the greatest issue with those declaring war on them (which is logical). I don’t hear them having a go at China, Brazil, India etc etc let alone Saudi Arabia (who are just across the road). Maybe we should just but out of it. If anyone wants to join them from australia then let them get on the first plane out and don’t let them back in. My understanding is one of the men arrested last week from the raids in sydney had his passport confiscated to prevent him from leaving the country so he didn’t become “radicalised’ – anyone who wants to go is already pretty radicalised – keeping him here was a dumb move.

  35. j.oneill

    @David Hand #9. Yes, we remember 9/11. We remember that those clever Muslims were able to get the US air force to stand down; able to threaten Senators opposing the Patriot Act with anthrax from Fort Dettrick; and so clever they could defeat the laws of physics. The whole “war on terror” is really a war on terror, designed to frighten us into accepting the disappearance of our civil liberties. It has already happened in the US with the suspension of habeas corpus, once the cornerstone of our liberties.

    Can I suggest that our government will keep on with its erosion of rights, and it will get away with it because we don’t have the gumption to hold them liable for waging a war of aggression based on lies. Howard “surprised” there were no Iraqi WMD! Give us a break.

  36. David Hand

    Well Seriously,
    I agree with you. Military intervention against ISIL is a dubious venture with an uncertain outcome, mostly occurring because the USA is stuck in Iraq thanks to W.

    But I don’t think it has anything whatsoever to do with radical Islamists targeting Australia, whatever their PR machine says. Appeasement never works with people who have no intention of negotiating.

  37. David Hand

    Ian,
    When you say the Anglo sphere is more afraid of its own citizens than it is of terrorists, you misunderstand who the terrorists are.

    They are citizens of the Anglo sphere. The young men who blew themselves and a hundred or so others up on the London underground on 7 July 2005 were all born in England.

    The reason we are afraid is because Sharrouf and his kids are all Aussies.

  38. ianjohnno

    No, David, I don’t.
    I do not dismiss the home-grown Islamist terrorists but I am also the growing number of ordinary souls who see our politicians as a rapidly growing threat to democracy as we understand it (a growing bogan class doesn’t help, either).

  39. David Hand

    Dismissing bogans as a threat to democracy is an inner urban group wank. It suggests that middle Australia is too stupid to be trusted with democracy.

    If you’re looking for a dangerous idea, there is one right in the middle of your post Ian.

  40. Rais

    Bob’s uncle: ” Maybe the next war will be prompted by a vaguely Arab-looking guy talking loudly on his phone in a train carriage.’ It won’t be me. I’m vaguely Arab-looking but I talk quietly. Oh, that’s even worse? Trying to conceal something?

  41. Nick Seidenman

    @DavidHand, #32: I think Australia’s participation in US actions against IS fits the definition of appeasement far better. Staying out of a conflict on the other side of the world, to which we are not in any way a party isn’t appeasement; it’s simply good manners.

  42. ianjohnno

    OK, David, I’d better define bogan as I see them: Their prime characteristic is willful ignorance – it’s not a matter of not being able to trust them with democracy, it’s that they mostly can’t be bothered with it unless it affects their insular lives or offends their preconceived ideas.

    As for being inner urban, I am, and always have been, outer urban – I live with the buggers, I can tell you that they are not the same working class/middle Australians of a generation or two ago (though there are quite a few left). Don’t confuse them with what might be called “lifestyle bogans” (Think Kath & Kym) for whom it is all a bit of a joke. Also, the malignant (if that’s not too heavy) form of boganism crosses all social strata.

    When a significant minority of young people, as a recently published poll asserts, do not think democracy is a good system then there is something badly wrong. Somebody please tell me that the poll was bull****.

  43. The Hood

    Where is International Rescue when you need them?

  44. David Hand

    Ian,
    There’s on prohibition on outer urbanites joining in with the inner urban group wank.

    But your post simply expands on your dangerous idea and it is a very dangerous idea. It’s where totalitarianism comes from, where an elite group believes it is more able to run things for the rest. The rise of the political class in Australia, particularly on the left of politics, is built on this view.

  45. Nick Seidenman

    If there is to be a “political class” at all, I prefer that it be one that is informed, not one that is simply bought. If “the left” believes it is better able to run things, perhaps it’s because, unlike “the Right”, they have bothered to educate themselves. A characteristic of the Right, particularly in America, though it has taken firm root here in Oz, is the belief that they are entitled to “run things”, that it is somehow their destiny. The Left sees government as a common vehicle for bettering and enriching all our lives; the Right sees it as a means to enrich themselves and their cronies — all at our expense.

  46. ianjohnno

    David, that’s pretty much what I have been on about – Left or Right (and the left right out).
    Every bugger has agenda but those who can be bought are the most dangerous.
    I pretty much prefer a balanced system but the love of money and the power it brings is perverting democracy. I think we are getting at the same thing from different sides.

    Mr Seidenman’s post @40 is also worth considering.

  47. terry darling

    Indeed, bravo, Bernard.!

  48. Neutral

    The cold war is over. The fiction that is ‘right’ and ‘left’ is perpuated by those fossils who are only in their comfort zone when fighting ‘reds under the bed’. These days it’s ‘terrists’.

    Liberal and labor are so closely entwined in populist policy that the only thing either side has to differentiate itself from the other is via facile class warfare.

    More of us are in the middle than are on the ‘left’ or the ‘right’ but unfortunately our democracy perpuates the professional political class duopoly at our expense.

  49. The Pav

    Dear David @ 27

    What a shallow & glib response and demeans the familial loss of those concerned but what has happened does not invalidate my comment. I never said that there wouldn’t be casulties but at least we will preserve our integrity and victory is assured. It was always thus and will always be.

    Misty Rabbitt has won this war on terrorr………MISSION ACCOMPLISHED>>>>>>>> Poll number up substantially!!!!!!!! The only genuine motivation in this. Misty Rabbitts govt has not got anything right from Budget cris to Medical Expenditure to climate policy to energy policy to transport policy to.anything so what ever Misty Rabbitt suggests go opposite…..If you don’t accept my reasoning this as a dec ision tool is infallible

  50. David Hand

    I think my response 27 was neither glib nor shallow. The hostages are a very real direct challenge to the governments of the west. They do not have the luxury of just saying “Yeah, no worries. They might chop a few heads off but we’ll win in the end”.

  51. Ken Lambert

    Quite right David Hand.

    We are talking Islamo Fascists of the Hitlerian SS kind. There is no negotiation with people whose only offer is to kill you.

  52. Dipaha

    A question proposed by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross May 24 2014
    “Do politicians lie?  Of course they do,  including, of course, Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Whether it’s the manufacturing of a budget “crisis”, or the systematic trashing of election promises, or pretending that taxes are anything-but-taxes, or lying about spying, or lying about lying, Abbott has demonstrated his disdain for the truth.
    There is no need to go into detail here since Mike Carlton has already documented much of the fibbing, ably assisted by Annabel Crabb and Laurie Oakes and Bernard Keane and … well, pretty much every political commentator who isn’t a Liberal Party shill.”
    Which is curious, if I recall it was Bernard Keane who declared that Tony Abbott was his award winning Politician of the year 2013.
    So how did Tony Abbott the declared liar achieve the notable badge of Bernard Keane’s “Politician of the Year Award”… that would be Abbott’s destroying his opponents. The “destroying” was so absolute and so notable and successful this was worthy of this Keane award. So perhaps it beggars the belief those who have already awarded a notable liar, weathervane, exaggerating media addict, a failed minister whose every policy creation has been dumped as failure….. aww gee….. who exactly is lecturing whom?
    Keane, Murphy, Taylor, Hartcher, Kenny et al…. look how easy was it for Abbott to exclude them as superfluous to need. I could almost shed a tear if I cared. Those Abbott dog whistles…… seven years worth of lying dog whistles….. sweet jesus what is with the big drama over this latest Abbott dog whistle.
    Tony Abbott promised the return to the “Golden Age”…. mean and tricky and divisive. It is almost like we are set to relive the Cronulla Beach Riot….. the return to the Golden Age. Award winning Wrecking Ball Politics. Hallelujah ….. the Golden Age has returned.

  53. AR

    If only Tamas & OneHand got a room they could tongue bath each other and allow those with a sense of reality & proportion to discuss matters without white noise.
    Why do people keep feeding those trolls?

  54. Nick Seidenman

    @Dipaha, #49 The “big drama” this time probably has more to do with curtailing the very freedoms members of the press, such as Keane et alia, enjoy and depend on for their livelihoods. Abolition of the Carbon Tax, mining tax(es), Climate Council and such don’t really hit the Press where it truly hurts — not in any immediate sense, anyway. Suggesting that what they write may have to be vetted by government censors for what might be considered seditious language, on the other hand, is a real threat to any member of the Fourth Estate. Hence the drama.

  55. David Irving (no relation)

    Nothing new here. After all, Menzies dragged us into Vietnam on the back of a lie as well.

  56. Neutral

    AR: “Why do people keep feeding those trolls?”

    One answer: We live in a ‘liberal democracy’ where free speech up to a point is accepted. To deny anyone an opportunity to put across their point of view would be censorship. Would we want that?

    I’m sure I’m not alone in welcoming valid views contrary to the point of discussion.

    Where it fails is when it quite often degenerates into inanity by cheering for one’s political religion. Right v Left is no different than Catholic v Protestant, Sunni v Shia or Crusaders v Jihadists. Same dog different leg action and it all misses the point.

  57. Jaybuoy

    In Parliament on the third of September parroting Menzies…
    It is my melancholy duty to inform you officially that in consequence of a persistence of low polling numbers that regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.
    There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.
    No harder task can fall to the lot of a democratic leader than to make such an announcement…… quelle surprise.

  58. Jaybuoy

    Abbotts got his role confused .. we are supposed to be Chester to Marshall Dillon not the leader of the lynch mob..
    Its to be a kowtow not a drive bye shooting..

  59. Nick Seidenman

    Brandis parroting (verbatim) GWB’s “they hate us for who we are, for our freedom” is, to this ex-pat Yank, nauseating and worrisome.

  60. Nick Seidenman

    To those who believe the Bush/Brandis BS, “they hate us for who we are, for our freedoms”, please recall that the 9/11 (and the earlier, 1993 bombing) terrorists attacked targets that symbolised American Militarised Imperialism (WTC, Pentagon), rather than such icons of freedom as our Statue of Liberty or the Capitol. Nobody hates freedom be it theirs or anyone else’s. Does the Abbot government really think we so dumb as to fall for such a patently stupid remark?

  61. The Pav

    DEar Nick @ 57 & 58

    I am dyimg for some journo who isn’t gutless to ask Abbott/Brandis etc
    “If they ( the terrorists)hate us for our freedom then why are you trying to legislate away so much of it? Why are you doing their work for them or are you the real terrorists?”

    Never going to happen given the supine nature of our media

  62. David Hand

    The Press don’t ask it because it’s such a stupid question Pav.

    Terrorism has a damaging effect on our civilisation. It’s why they do it.

  63. Yclept

    So Tony’s terrorist actions are aimed at destroying our civilisation. At last you’re making sense David.

  64. Nick Seidenman

    Terrorism itself has little or no effect our our civilisation: the responses we’ve seen on the part of the US have undermined the Constitution itself as we have seen the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments all but nullified for “security reasons”. Australia can rest a little easier but only in the sense that your Constitution doesn’t really guarantee its citizens any rights to begin with; one doesn’t miss what one doesn’t have.

    Look at Spain’s response to the Atocha bombing (Madrid, 2004). No kevlar-clad para-military police walking around, very visibly, carrying automatic weapons. No multiple echelons of metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs, full-body scanning, privacy-invading mm-wave X-ray machines. No annual showers of reminder articles and memorial services, and other re-opening of wounds, there. They cleaned up, rebuilt the station, put up some very nice looking planter boxes that, (only) on closer inspection turn out to be barriers to keep vehicles a bit further from the station. Madrid cleaned up the mess, rebuilt what was destroyed, and today you’d never know such a horrific event ever took place there. That is how you respond to terrorism. Keeping people afraid legitimises terrorist actions by giving them significance. A collective, national shrug and return to normalcy makes terrorist acts — and the terrorists themselves — insignificant.

  65. The Pav

    David @ 60

    Im think the rep;ies @61 & 61 put it pretty well.

    If it wasn’t for our poll chasing PM giving the issue oxygen we could get on with our lives quite safely with the existing precautions.

    As has been pointed out Hoodle Street & Port Arthus killed many more.

    Perhaps with out Abbotts hysterical whipping up of the issues to deflect attention from his dishonest & incompetent Govt it may be that a disturbed young man would still be alive.

    Quite frankly what is happening in Syria has bugger all to do with us. Terrible as it is there is effectively no action we can take that will make a meaningful difference or not make the situation worse.

    Since Abbott has been wrong about everything else there is absolutely no reason to believe or regard anything he does in this issue could be correct. That Shorten is falling into line is just as odious.

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