Oct 28, 2015

‘Greatly exaggerated’: Peter Reith’s account of ‘children overboard’

The Reith Papers contain an account of the "children overboard" scandal. But it's not the same account you will find in the history books ...

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


In this era when everyone down to a single-term ACT MLA is getting their own memoir published, strange things are happening. Former defence minister Peter Reith’s new book The Reith Papers is, like, all such tomes, no stylistic masterpiece — although it’s Gatsby itself compared to Christopher Pyne’s recent effort — but the author recounts its mode of composition in a manner that some will find reminiscent of the famous authors’ interviews in the Paris Review (“I only ever use a 2B pencil”).


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27 thoughts on “‘Greatly exaggerated’: Peter Reith’s account of ‘children overboard’

  1. Kevin Herbert

    This disgraceful event was the catalyst for my permanent loss of respect for Howard & his Liberal colleagues of the day.

    Each time I saw Howard & co invoking the Anzac spirit of mateship & supporting ‘Australian fair go values’ after this sad event, it made me want to puke.

    Howard’s close personal relationship with & support for the war criminals Bush & Blair in the Iraq & Afghanistan debacles, has caste him forever as a fellow war criminal.

    The Labor Party didn’t exactly cover itself in glory in these incidents either.

  2. Norman Hanscombe

    Guy, I guess you’ve missed the delightful irony of YOU telling others about someone else’s ‘analysis’ containing claims which are “greatly exaggerated”?

  3. Dogs breakfast

    What an unconscionable, what a complete, arrgghhhh!

    Was this the same man who had his son rack up $50K or so in charges on a government issued Telstra charge card, or the like, against all entitlements, and had to repay it, and for some reason was neither charged nor even investigated by the AFP?

    My memory fails me, someone will remember.

  4. AR

    It is hard to think of another expollie with so many black marks against him and yet, for unknown reasons, he is paid to pontificate, prevaricate & piss off anyone with a sense of decency.

  5. Big Wobbly

    Reith is such a complete, absolute tool Bunnings Warehouse should put him on the front cover of their next giveaway catalogue.

    Bruce Robinson’s recent THEY ALL LOVE JACK chronicles for several hundred pages the lies and obfuscations of the police and political elites in England as they attempted to spin away a killer who was evidently from the same Freemason gentlemen’s clubs as them. Reith reminds me of their ilk, and I suspect would be equally untroubled by a few excess deaths here and there.

  6. zut alors

    Indeed, Dogs Breakfast, this is the same individual, the former Honourable Member for Flinders, P Reith. He can write as many books as he chooses to explain at great length how he knew nuthin’ about nuthin’ (despite being told by Barrie) but, in the post Howard era, there would be few in Oz who believe his assertions.

    The delicious irony of PM Howard quoting from an ONA report at the Press Club luncheon. Only months later he refused to give credibility to the ONA report there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Andrew Wilkie told us loud & clear – because he then worked there & had read the report.

  7. CML

    What is it with the voters of this country?
    LNP politicians are a revolting pack of people, who are mostly poor excuses for humanity, in the main. Yet here we go again!
    Not content with foisting the rAbbott, and his motley crew, on us for the past two years, it now seems likely they will vote to retain said motley crew with yet another hypocrite leading the parade.
    The mind boggles at the stupidity of some voters!!

  8. Bill Hilliger

    A main-chancer and carpet bagger that keeps on keeping on is how Peter Reith could best be described.

  9. MJM

    Two days after September 11 2001 my mother was 91 and on that day suffered a minor stroke. The next day Ansett stopped flying its planes. My mother lived about 850 kms from where I lived and my job included responsibility for the flights of the several thousand staff of the organisation I worked for. The week was a blur with some blobs of clear memories.

    By the time of the Senate Inquiry into the so-called Children Overboard event I had retired so, living in Canberra, I decided to attend the inquiry’s public hearings. That PM Howard, Minister Reith and A-G Ruddock had all lied was plainly obvious. Equally memorable to me was the appalling behaviour of Inquiry member and now A-G Senator Brandis who had been given the role of covering the government’s tracks with simple obfuscation.

    It was a very dark time in Australia’s history. That the major political players engaged in telling bare-faced lies, still being peddled, is a stunning indictment of parliamentary democracy. Why these people are publishing books instead of languishing in jail is beyond my understanding. Glad to see a review challenging Reith’s attempts at revising history.

  10. David Hand

    You make far too much of this, Guy. Even your “truth” section contains the statement, “The next day, he was informed that the photos might not have been evidence of children being thrown overboard.” which suggests that he believed it at the time he said it, and didn’t make it up himself.

    The fact is that this is an icon of leftie victimhood, a day of infamy when those evil Liberals stole an election through an untruth. You seem to have no recognition of the people smugglers business model – sail an old boat towards Australia, wait till the RAN arrives, sabotage the boat, thereby putting the navy under duress to transport asylum seekers to Australia.

    In such a scenario, children on a sinking boat, thrown overboard or not, is a clear tactic of applying pressure on Australia’s borders and we’ve seen hundreds of those.

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