Archive for October, 2007

Right about the planet’s nuclear waste, the destruction of our agricultural industries, and now a partnership of forgers in Toorak
October 25, 2007

I haven’t ever boasted about my prophetic novels. However the last, “The Devil’s Trap … set to catch friends”, laid out the spin that America and Australia are putting on the fact that finally the wide, brown land will be the planet’s nuclear waste dump. First there was the lurch towards having nuclear power. That feint has been replaced by: we’re not having nuclear power. This from Malcolm Slick Turnbull, our environmental Minister. But we’ve already signed a nuclear agreement with America and we will be taking their nuclear waste.

First they tried the gambit of, gee, if we lease our uranium to other countries we can take it back to store it. That is the most perverse commercial deal I’ve ever heard. We lease something valuable and take it back when it’s useless for anything but storing, and we pay for that. The spin on that is those who used it will pay for storage until …. they forget? they go broke? Remember it’s looking after a substance that can leak at any time for 500,000 years.

The novel was also right on the Murray/Darling river system and how we are about to lose our agriculture. So we swap our agricultural industry for the nuclear waste industry, otherwise we will be a poor nation. The Americans can do that with us because they have been studying our Murray/Darling river system for decades ( see ABC Rural hour -2004). They’ve monitored flow and salinity. You see they know we are a very handy country and they have a special bureaucracy to study what is happening here, and how we can be manipulated. (Who said, “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.”)

But an unexpected prediction was that a couple were forging paintings in Toorak. Yep, I got the style of painting wrong and the fact that a woman wasn’t found murdered, but you get the accuracy.

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Call him Cowardy Fuckwit Bush – he’s threatening to bomb old friends.
October 24, 2007

America made sure Saddam Hussien hung for his murder of Iraq’s Kurds, so what should happen to Bush if he bombs – as he’s threatening – the Kurds who are disturbing the Turks?

It’s a case of the good guys – although we know the Turks aren’t so good, laughing at Australians who go to Gallpolli each year to remember their defeat at the hands of the Turks – imitating the deeds of a murderer. The Turks have already bombed Kurdish villagers – two days ago.

Now Bush is saying, we’ll bomb them for you, so you don’t have to enter Iraq and confuse matters to another layer. Of course they’ve given these Kurds a label: the PKK, an alleged terrorist group. Who wouldn’t be a terrorist if you and your people had been bombed since the second world war, pretty regularly? Churchill bombed them first because they didn’t like the way their land had been divided, and became violent. Since then the Turks have been frightened they may attempt to take their land back from Turkey, and so bomb them out of fear. They want to do to them what they did to the Armenians a hundred years ago: tried to wipe the race out and killed a million or so.

What do we call Bush submitting to blackmail by the Turks? I thought he always said America wouldn’t give into blackmail threats and he’s preparing to after only three days. Remember also how America promised the Kurds that if they attacked Saddam Hussien they would receive support from America. They did; and they didn’t. Maybe fuckwit wouldn’t be out of order. A cowardy custard fuckwit?

Saddam Hussien gassed the Kurds. The result was death, as will be the result of the Turkish and American bombing. Of course civilians will be killed for Americans have never bombed anybody without killing civilians – collateral damage remember?

Canberra journalists self-censor
October 22, 2007

Now we have the sight of Canberra journalists self-censoring in no uncertain way (See previous story, Rupert Murdoch’s John Hartigan….).The National Press Club has shown us the real culture of the media with their closing down on freedom of speech over the worm. It is now clear that those journalists working for Canberra’s media bureaus are adhering to what they imagined are the wishes of their contacts. It used to be the first instinct of any journalist to begin to rail against the first sign of brow beating by politicians. Now the journalists do their own brow beating. I guess it’s because the National Press Club has become an imposing institution. For what? For pretending they are as important as those on whom they reported. Guys, you used to be more important

I was a press secretary to a dpm in the seventies and when that individual rang proprietors to stop a major story (against my fervent advice) the memories of the senior journalists who had been by-passed were honed, and the moment he stepped out of line they destroyed him. Rightly so.

Towards the end of my time it used to be that peer group leaders were subtley manipulated so they would take their acolytes along with them. During the next Labor government those peer leaders were rewarded handsomely.

Rupert Murdoch’s Hartigan forgot about self-censorship
October 22, 2007

One of Rupert Murdoch’s chief execs, John Hartigan, spoke well at The National Press Club (covered by ABC television on Sunday night)and fooled most people into thinking his boss never interferred with editorial direction. He outlined how he had never been given editorial direction and therefore it didn’t exist. He hasn’t understood the concept of self-censorship. Having worked with most news organisations in Australia, except Murdoch, I know that even ABC television lets you know the attitude you should take to a story or a personality. I remember overstepping the mark on asking Premier Bolte whether he would have a royal commission into a train wreck on the Sydney line. From memory half a dozen people were killed but the shots were spectacular and if it hadn’t been for a crop duster pilot who ran along the length of the train smashing windows with an axe there would have been many more deaths. I was reprimanded for chasing that , and for being insolent to the Premier. Another journo asked me what in the hell did I think I was doing? There was to be no criticism of the incumbent government in News. I left the ABC newsroom soon after. So, if you don’t adhere to the subtle messages you are given a lecture on how to approach a certain kind of story.

In my day on The Age and GTV news we knew that we were not to cover anti-Vietnam demonstrations more than a few pars, and would have been quite within the right attitude if they weren’t covered at all. Jim Cairns was a total no no for Graham Perkin on The Age and if he was forced to use a story that emanated from Jim he would use an old photograph taken when Jim had severe hayfever. There were other shots of Jim but the photo ed knew the one Perkin liked. When I became Jim’s press secretary during his time as deputy prime minister I asked an Age journalist to destroy the photograph. Subsequently it went missing.

My own experience with Murdoch and his culture was when I was replaced at the Review by Richard Walsh (he halved the circulation in three weeks) and it was suggested I ring The Australian for a job.I did and it was suggested that they needed a senior journalist to investigate Victorian politicians. They flew me to Sydney for an interview. I understood I had the senior position and was to start on Monday. Turning up at The Australian officers in Melbourne I discovered I had been alloted a dog show to cover. I queried the assignment. No, that was my task that day. I was told I had a junior grading, less than I had had several jobs before working for Gordon Barton. I left and flew to Canada the following week. I started at The Tortonto Telegram at a respectable salary.

I really dislike having to explain mysef with too many personal experiences but I have to add that The Sunday Observer knocked the Melbourne circulation of Murdoch’s Mirror, and The Sunday Telegraph, for six. I guess that’s the reason I was treated like that. I know when I left The Age’s pathetic Newsday for The Sunday Observer I was told by Newsday’s deputy editor, John Stevens that If I went I’d never get another job in Australian journalism (it was a friendly warning not a threat) so he knew there was a proprietors’ attitude with which you had to contend.

No nuclear power for Australia just the planet’s waste.
October 22, 2007

Malcolm Slick Turnbull has finally foreshadowed the news that we won’t be building nuclear power stations. My 2006 novel had already painted the scenario. Nuclear power for Australia would be promoted long enough for us to sign agreements on being the planet’s – America’s first – nuclear waste dump, and then disbanded. As The Devil’s Trap pointed out the US knew that our agriculture would disappear (they’ve been monitoring the Murray/Darling system for years) and a good argument for us taking the waste would be that we were swapping one industry for another.

Problem. Nuclear waste requires tending for 500,000 years. To place that in perspective the oldest man made buildings on the planet are the pyramids. They’re an estimated 10,000 years old. Because the cultures and the people change over the millenia we didn’t know what the pyramids were built for until the last hundred years when British archaeologists began investigating. Imagine how its going to be when the waste is buried (unsafely, for there is no evidence that we can store the stuff for longer than 50 years) in our deserts and generations have forgotten its there.In Washington State the waste was leaking into the Columbia river within a decade. The nuclear waste dumps will be built underground but above the central Australian water aquifers.

Still to be realised (as far as The Devil’s Trap is concerned) is that our savage anti-terror laws are really to stop protests against the storing and transport of such horrendously dangerous material.

The Greens won the Howard/Rudd debate – the latter proved they were intimidated by Bush
October 21, 2007

The Greens won the debate between Prime Minister Howard and Opposition Leader Rudd. Neither Howard or Rudd were transparent on global change and each proved that they were frightened to take the issue to President Bush. Rudd said, in answer to Howard’s jibe that he had only spent moments on climate change when meeting with Bush, that Bush didn’t want to discuss climate change so he didn’t. Gee, how Australian – being intimidated by an American. The planet is being destroyed and he still followed etiquette. Some fighter.

Howard proved he was frightened of Bush, and doesn’t discuss climate change with him, by not taking Rudd to task over such behaviour. It was behaviour he understood. Bye bye world. We now have the Greens to teach us how to survive extreme weather conditions, which are growing daily.

Sad Australia couldn’t afford to decommission nuclear power plants.
October 21, 2007

Given that Australia could afford nuclear power there is a sad lapse in the logic of how it would end nuclear power (all the uranium will be depleted in 15 to 20 years). The power plants may cost tens of billions of dollars and we’d just scrape home with the money, but the problem is the decommissioning of the plants. The UK is planning to decommission 20 plants at an estimated cost of $150 billion (The Guardian), an estimate that has risen 17% in a year. Australia just wouldn’t be able to spend that much money with no return. And even if the companies building nuclear plants agreed to decommission, using world’s best practice, they would, like most firms feel it would be more profitable to go bust, even bankrupt, rather than spend the $15 billion dollars cleaning up each power plant. After all that’s how the big end of town does business. Their strict maxim is: don’t send good money after bad.

Barrier scratchings should always be suspect at metropolitan tracks
October 21, 2007

The betting on the Caufield Cup should be closely examined. I once laid a bet on a horse called Tell William. He was a 100 to one chance at Caufield – his first race. His trainer Colin Little was sure he had a chance although I was the only one to back him. I laid $300 down minutes before the race began. He still hadn’t entered the barrier. After I laid the money I watched the trainer call a cohort who rushed away. Within a minute Tell William was scratched for poor behaviour at the barrier. I had broken him in and he was perfect at his barrier trials. He was calm and would enter a float without a thought. He was owned by another member of my family. He went on to win several races in town and country.

Of course all the proceedings leading up to a race start (and after) are observed by stewards. But a nod or a glance can be of huge significance as barrier staff carry out their tasks expeditiously.

I once sat beside Colin Hayes in the owners’ seats at Caufield. I overhead the conversation with an owner. “You never know what’s happening around the back straight. The bastards could be doing anything.”

And you don’t know. During winter in Melbourne the same horses go around each week and so everyone knows the abilities of all horses under all conditions. It only takes some quick dialogue (and offers) by knowledgeable riders in the back straight to bring about the required result.

Australian soldiers performed water torture on Vietnamese woman.
October 19, 2007

The Australian’s extract from Paul Ham’s book on the media in Vietnam discounts the story of two Australian soldiers torturing a Vietnamese women in 1966, forcing water into her mouth through a gag that kept her mouth open. In fact the film was run on a local Bendigo television station then owned by the Victorian Broadcasting Network, an independent organisation, of which T.B. Green (my father) was a director. Later Skase joined as a director and my father resigned.

It was run on their late news, and it was so disgusting I immediately became active against the war in Vietnam.

After a stint on ABC television and The Age’s Newsday I joined Gordon Barton’s Sunday Observer (an anti-Vietnam weekly)as News Editor and Chief of Staff, with Editor, historian Michael Cannon. It was the first newspaper in the world to run the My Lai massacre shots. In the Observer they were run as a special magazine and we printed 2000,000 copies of it. Life magazine had previously run the shots but The London Times and The New York Times ran them later.

The previous week we ran a front page photograph of American soldiers throwing a Vietnamese out of a helicopter. All these shots were available but our conservative press left it to us to run them.

Ben Cousins is Ned Kelly – a strange metamorphosis
October 19, 2007

We’ve misjudged Ben Cousins (at least I have). He is Ned Kelly. I imagined another football loser but now with the police charges dropped he will garner money from everyone, the Eagles, the AFL and the police – for wrongful arrest. The pay off will be far beyond Ned Kelly’s expectations.

Of couse he will still die with Ned’s words last words, SUCH IS LIFE, tattooed across his belly, but then he wants that. My assertion that he was promoting literary Australia ( Tom Collins’s classic, Such is Life, is no longer such a theme for his life) is not the true position. At least I hope not. He’s got to keep his nerve through several court cases and possibly the sporting clubs offers of settlement. Then again, if the WA police are full of Fremantle terrors he may die as violently as Ned.