Archive for March, 2008

This week’s evidence of why we shouldn’t trust governments and business
March 30, 2008

Apart from the stockbrokering firm who who went bust for a billion and who sold their clients’ holdings (not illegal just irregular), there are the various spins from federal and state government.

The new billion dollars that was for the Victoria’s Murray-Darling cocooning was actually not new money but for the food bowl programme under John Howard. The Australian allowed us to see that in the columns of Glen Milne’s excellent investigative piece. He didn’t castigate Minister Wong for being part of the misleading spin but maybe he should have. She will be the preventer of all good things to help climate change and the effects of same.

Yes, and the third example is again to do with water. Here’s a quote from political reporter, Rick Wallace, “The First Mildura Irrigation Trust is under investigation by Finance Minister Tim Holding for investing $4.5 million it borrowed from the state treasury in funds affected by the crisis. The trust which is facing the sack, is thought to have lost $750,000. Can we really trust anyone to do anything about climate change?” And it’s only Monday.

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Wayne Carey is a watcher
March 28, 2008

Wayne Carey always managed to organise a place in a bedroom or bathroom where he could see himself performing, according to a former and occasional companion. Beware you watchers. Don’t look into your own eyes.

The Australian Government was forced to lift their ban on Wilfred Burchett
March 24, 2008

Having forced the Australian Government to lift its ban on Wilfred Burchett I flew into the country with him in 1970. As News Editor of The Sunday Observer I had convinced proprietor Gordon BartonĀ  that such an action would lift the circulation of the paper, and that a valid argument for such a course was that an individual born in Australia should always be allowed to return. Once we were in the air to New Caledonia to pick him up the government caved in.

We were surprised that it was so easy to turn the government around because we had envisioned much opposition. In the event there was only a bomb threat to our light plane phoned in by a French journalist (who warned me it was to happen) paid to do so by a correspondent from a Melbourne paper. However the real reason for being allowed to bring Burchett in from the cold was possibly his appointment, a few weeks later, with Nixon and Kissinger and his being quizzed by them on North Vietnam.

Myself and photographer Bill Veitch spent an evening with Burchett some days before the flight and we discussed his communist party membership. He denied official membership but admitted that his Paris news agency that supplied, at different times, news to official Russian and Chinese publications and slanted that news in such a way that it adhered to the propaganda policies of those countries. I argued that to do that could only be interpreted as being employed and trusted by communist countries, and therefore he was to all intents and purposes acting as a communist cipher.

I wrote the story for the Sunday Observer but the then editor, David Robie and management, decided it was inappropriate for The Sunday Observer to aid an individual who admitted to such collaboration and it was omitted from my story.

Swim team captain Grant Hackett wants the Tibetan outrage to die down – it will with the murder of dissidents
March 21, 2008

Australian Olympic swim team captain, Grant Hackett, says he hopes the Tibet outrage dies down a bit as the Games approach. A sort of callow response to what is an attempt at cultural genocide on the part of China. He means of course that he hopes the media coverage of the murder and oppression of the Tibetans fades away. It will, as China murders and jails the dissidents. Good thinking, Grant.

Australia has always kept an eye on China for America
March 18, 2008

The first time I was aware that we were spying on China for America was a trip to the Peking Trade Exhibition on an RAAF VIP jet with Deputy Prime Minister Dr JimĀ  Cairns in 1974.

Approaching Hong Kong – then still under British rule – I was in formed by a technical sergeant on the plane that we were carrying electronic equipment to detect and examine the Chinese Defence systems. “It’s the same stuff that Nixon took in on his visit. The CIA installed it.”

“Great,” I replied. “I’ll be leaving the plane in Hong Kong.”

“Don’t worry about,” he said. “It’s installed in the other electrical systems.”

“You mean the toaster, stove stuff.” In those days – I was a considerable wit. He thought it such a wet comment he didn’t respond. A moment later he said, “Listen they’ll never find it, they can’t even make crystal sets.”

I didn’t mention it to Jim because it had too much of a set-up feeling attached to it. Two other people, including the office manager mentioned it to me, and I realised I was supposed to do something with the information. I did indeed think I should tell Nation Review’s correspondent, Mungo McCallum, but didn’t want to embroil him in a hoax. The Australian’s Greg Clarke also deserved a break on a good story.

We were an extra day in Hong Kong so I had plenty of opportunity to begin a diplomatic break with America (little did I really know). I didn’t tell anyone. I kept it from Jim because he may have pursued a bureaucratic pathway that would have revealed him as vulnerable.

It wasn’t until we were in China that I realised that the story was a real one. The bureaucrats were running around in a state close to hysteria in case the Chinese discovered the electronic probing system. They may have all gone to jail and/ or faced execution.
The Chinese had suspected something because they had wanted the crew to fly in without their uniforms. Australia (Gough and Jim) held fast. If the crew had been in civvies and the gear discovered, they would have been prosecuted as spies .

Men like New York Governor Eliot Spitzer mistake their wallet for their fly
March 14, 2008

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is one of those poor bastards that missed out on real sex in his mad scramble for power. Real sex has nothing to do with money being paid in an attempt at satisfaction, although wealthy women occasionally mistake a man’s wealth for personality, power and good looks.

So it’s not entirely a philanderer’s fault if he mixes up his wallet and his fly. Women and men mistake the attraction of symbols for the reason that those copywriters who have pored over Freud (and Shakespeare, as Freud used his symbols to interpret dreams and desires) for meaningful symbols that will turn people into harvesting consumers, have managed to disguise sexual lust in ads for food, coffee, icecream, cars, weapons of mass destruction, and anything else you like to mention.

Still you’d expect a governor to know enough about sex to indulge it with some finesse and ultimate enjoyment. Sex for an hour with a paid companion is hardly anyones considered structure for a delightful evening. It’s more like a cookie monster hard at work on lingerie.

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A nuclear facility providing nuclear fuel is a dud
March 14, 2008

The Guardian is such a great newspaper. It always covers – unknowingly – the results on many of my speculations. This time they report on a nuclear plant, built for over a $1 billion, to provide atomic fuel for foreign power stations has produced almost nothing since it was opened six years ago.

And where did they get this information? From the government. The Sellafield plan which was opposed by green groups as uneconomic – was predicted to produce 120 tons of the stuff annually. It barely managed 2.6 tons. Notice how green groups’ predictions are mostly proved right.

My prediction was a little different. It was that the plant would lay waste to the surrounding countryside and, finally, cost billions to clean up. That announcement is still to come. It’snot quantum physics to establish such logic, America’s Washington State is in such shock over its nuclear waste it will be getting rid of future stock to Australia.

George Bush senior forced from the Australian Embassy in Peking by Bill Green
March 10, 2008

I ripped a leather coat from the back of George Bush senior when he attempted to throw me out of the Australian Embassy in Peking (as it then was) in 1974. As he ordered me from the Australian Embassy I reached behind him, grasped the coat on either side of the vent and ripped it from him. The coat was an inferior “deer skin” coat, really pigskin, and the stitches were also weak. He had purchased the coat in China. I had also purchased one that day. We were in the crowded bar of the Embassy after a day at the Peking Trade Exhibition.

George was then the senior officer with what amounted to the China-America Liaison office that was created to win America permission for an Embassy in China. The Americans were piggy-backing on our Embassy, run by a young and terribly competent Stephen Fitzgerald.

The incident began when two trade exhibitors drank a little too much and thought I was a suitable candidate for verbal abuse because I was the press secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Jim Cairns, and he didn’t attend the drinking session. “Your fuckin’ boss is a pink lefty aresehole,” seemed to be the best they could produce but it was yelled into my ear every few minutes. I chose to ignore them until one pushed me and fell over, as did his companion shortly after.

I repaired to the toilet off the upstairs foyer. On emerging I was approached by the Hong Kong Trade Commissioner and told that the Ambassador had asked me to leave the Embassy. I smiled at him. He had imagined shock, horror and a humiliating exit.

“Are you going?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

He waved to two embassy guards to remove me. They came towards me across the foyer and I ran at them to at least have some momentum. They fell down and as I descended to the bar again I grabbed an aboriginal spear from the wall of the stair well. On approaching the table where Stephen was drinking I asked him if he had asked me to leave the Embassy. “Certainly not,” he said.

Returning to the bar I was handed a drink by Greg Clarke, Murdoch’s man in Tokyo, who had flown in with us in the RAAF’s VIP plane. Within a moment an American declared himself the culprit (he had obviously prevailed on the Trade Commissioner) and demanded that I leave the Australian Embassy. “But you’re a fuckin’ American,” I said. “How can you demand I leave the Embassy.”

“You’re leaving,” he said. I grabbed his coat and ripped it from his body. People emerged from everywhere to hold us. I heard someone ask if something should be done. Apparently not because several other people had already fallen over, obviously dead drunk. I saw George Bush senior leaving the Embassy bar with friends. I didn’t think too much about it except a Trade bureaucrat insisted I pay for the coat (I believe he was a senior in Trade). Not having a cheque book I borrowed one from a colleague. Fortunately the cheque later bounced.

However, the night was far from over. Stephen declared the bar shut sometime later and Jim’s press entourage left to be driven back to the hotel. At the hotel I asked for my bag from the boot. The driver refused to open it (all drivers then were members of Chinese security) and I approached the boot that had no handle and I imagined it was a Chinese puzzle. I lifted the number plate but it came off in my hand. I kicked the bumper bar but it fell off. Things looked dire.

The driver began to remonstrate with me in an abusive tone. I tied his car aerials in knots and began to walk away. Greg Clarke told me I’d have to apologise because the driver had called for the PLA (they had replaced the Red Guard) I turned back and said, “Sorry, mate.” I headed to the hotel foyer as fast as my dignity would allow.

There are many other aspects to this story, some I covered in my novel, Compulsively Murdering Mao, (Hodders), but I found I had to write the story on my blog because I woke up laughing about it some weeks ago, and that was a change.

Several times I have attempted to sell this story but I discovered editors tend to run from it. I know I could have if I persevered but having begun a career as a novelist I was reluctant. Would it cloud my reputation? I needn’t have worried.

Our international, deregulated banking magic may just lead to a banking collapse
March 9, 2008

Our international, deregulated banking system has a magic move to benefit their shareholders. They create money.

Here’s how it works for them: If an individual wants a great deal of money to purchase a house the banks “lend” it to them. Let’s say you go in and ask for $300 thousand and, deciding you can pay that amount off, they lend it to you. At that very moment they create your account they create the $300 thousand. It hasn’t been there before. They haven’t had to have that amount in their vaults but as soon as they have someone to pay that amount off it appears as a $300 thousand plus interest repayments, asset. If they do want to make some money they then sell your debt on for more money, usually to another bank.

And how does it work against them? Well, if there’s a major fall in house prices and/or the interest rates rise and the original purchaser can’t pay off the debt, or only a portion of it, then there’s the beginning of a banking collapse.

Sam should have been following my father’s advice on daily sex
March 6, 2008

Sam Newman should have taken my father’s advice. He told me that to keep prostate cancer at bay you should have daily sex. My father died at 92, without acknowledged prostate problems, but because he had jaw cancer, and he was frightened that the titanium replacement would buckle if he ate regular food. I know he ate regularly, on a daily basis in fact, but that didn’t save his jaw.

I ridiculed my father’s prostate theory and didn’t want to think about the daily sex he might be having until I received my inheritance of $678.80, exactly the same amount as my brother. Having lived the life of a rich man with beach houses, a superb art collection, and other indulgences (sounds like Sam) I imagined that I might receive enough to squander it on … something. I checked out my father’s finances and spoke to his friends.

Suddenly my respect for him was enormous. There were three women and he had given one an orchard, one a bus line and another a restaurant. To what age had he indulged himself? Well, the scene changed a little.There was a weekly cheque of $150 to Fashion Affair, a lingerie store, and a similar amount simply marked in the cheque butts as flowers. As he had never bought anyone flowers as far as I could remember, including my mother, and as I didn’t imagine him wearing women’s lingeries at 92, I surmised he had been avoiding prostate cancer up until the very last moment.

Sam you should have been doing better. I know I am.