Stop press: Sensational new developments on SIEV-X: The federal commissioner of police seeks immunity from answering questions on whether the AFP fitted tracking devices to asylum seeker boats. Go to sievx for the latest.
Today, a suggestion to ensure the Carr government does not abuse the sweeping new police powers it wants to rush through Parliament in the run-up to the election. Then readers comment on the chador controversy, the political climate, and the Carr/Kingston thing. A piece by Annabel Douglas-Hill on how the Philippines leadership handled similar protests to last week’s WTO march is a highlight.
The NSW parliament is off next week then back to pass Carr’s police bill before parliament is adjourned until after the election, so there’s no time to waste if you want to have your say. I’m especially interested in legal analysis of how far Carr could go under the new powers, and how the Opposition and the Greens could overcome a Carr vilification campaign if they seek amendments.
You can read the Terrorism (Police Powers) Bill 2002, at nswgov.
A good website to consult is Zem at zem. The author says he’s “a software developer from Sydney, Australia, who works in the telecommunications industry. He used to live in Melbourne. His real name is no dark secret, but has been omitted from this site as a courtesy to his employer.” Zem details developments in “cryptography, censorship, copyright, thought crime”, and there’s been a hell of a lot of them since September 11. His first take on the Carr bill is at zemcarr.
It’s vitally important that the public get involved in the short time available. Remember the multitude of problems with the federal government’s anti-terrorism bills earlier this year, and the fact that before a Liberal backbench revolt the government wanted to extend the ambit of “a terrorist act” to political and industrial protests. These problems came to light in a Senate inquiry rushed for time due to a government-imposed deadline. Carr has ruled out even a quickie inquiry.
For examples of the dangers we face if an unscrutinised, uncontested Carr bill is passed, see Come in, Big Brother, May 1, webdiary, Liberalism fights back on terror laws, May 8, webdiary, Payne and gain, May 29,webdiary and ASIO: Right beats might, again!, June 5, webdiary
Who will balance the power in Carr’s new terrorism law?
by Margo Kingston
In times of national crisis, most particularly when we face fighting a long war, it is imperative that the people trust the government. This is because we must accept a compromise of some of our fundamental human rights and liberties in the cause of effectively fighting the enemy.
A united, strong nation is a bedrock requirement for success in war. It is conceivable that conscription could be necessary, so it is vital that enough of our young people are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the country they love.
Leadership in such times is about uniting the people against a common enemy. The antithesis of leadership at such times is to divide the nation and crush those who sometimes disagree with government policy – especially in this war, where the enemy could, in rare vases, be within.
We have a problem. Trust in our key institutions – government, big business, the professions, and the media – is low. It has been breaking down for some time. It is now the duty of the leaders of our key institutions to work hard to rebuild and maintain the trust of the people as we prepare for war.
Bob Carr has a problem. This week he released his “Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002”, which he demands be rushed through parliament without any inquiry the week after next to grant police sweeping new powers to search and interrogate citizens. The person he wants to oversee and endorse the police use of these powers, on behalf of the people of NSW, is police minister Michael Costa.
Yet the integrity of his government is under extreme pressure, as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into the Oasis development exposes the seedy networks of closed-door influence and power of his government. Carr has refused to stand down the minister accused of soliciting a bribe of $1 million to buy safe passage for the development, Mr Obeid, and refused to act on Mr Obeid’s serial breaches of his legal requirement to disclose his pecuniary interests. In suburbs of Sydney and the towns and cities along the NSW coast, residents disempowered from any say in development are frustrated and angry, many taking to the streets to protest.
In the last two weeks, in an effort to take the heat off, Costa – without evidence – accused intending protesters against the WTO meeting – students, church people, environmentalists, unionists – of condoning and sponsoring violence. He tried to close down a seminar in Parliament house on the history and role of civil disobedience. He oversaw the banning of a street march in the city, which turned peaceful protesters into lawbreakers. He brought in mounted police and hundreds of other police into the CBD, along with many media representatives, then – despite a remarkable absence of violence in the heated atmosphere he created – demonised them yet again as violent criminals.
NSW citizens feel fear, uncertainty, and insecurity as the threat of terrorism on our own soil mounts. The last thing a responsible government should do is hysterically inflame these feelings by turning people against each other through the demonisation of innocent citizens. Its job is to reassure all citizens that their safety is in good hands and to foster a climate of trust in its good faith.
The way I read Mr Carr’s police bill, the WTO protests would have been, by Costa’s own words last week, “a terrorist act” triggering permission for police to search and interrogate all those involved. Imagine the games he could play with that if Labor was looking bad in the polls.
Costa just needs to say that a political march or industrial protest “creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public”, as he did last week. That makes it an “action”. “A terrorist act” is an action done “with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”, and of “intimidating the public or a section of the public”. Yep – Costa banged on about that last week, too.
The escape clause for protests is “advocacy, protest, dissent, or industrial action” not intended “to create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public”, or “to cause serious harm that is physical harm to a person”. There’s no way last week’s protest would fall within this exemption: Michael Costa accused protesters over and over of wanting to that do just that – without proof – for days before the protests took place.
It gets worse. By Costa’s own words, if this bill had been law two weeks ago he could have declared – through the police – the seminar in parliament house a terrorist act. On November 1, Costa told Parliament the seminar, hosted by Greens member Lee Rhiannon and approved by Upper House president Meredith Burgmann (Labor) would “teach people how to cause problems for our police and members of the community as they go about their business”. His claim was untrue, as the seminar proved, but that makes no difference.
Carr is in election mode. All efforts are directed towards winning in March 2002. He and Costa have proved beyond doubt they are willing to do whatever it takes. In these circumstances, to entrust the oversight of sweeping new police powers to Costa is a recipe for disaster. Too many innocents could be hurt, even destroyed, for political advantage. Our society could be divided so bitterly that our capacity to fight the war could be compromised.
Carr cannot seriously expect the people of NSW to go along with sweeping new police powers without responsible, trusted, oversight by a person with long experience, deeply-held values, unimpeachable integrity, excellent judgement, and above all independence from partisan politics – particularly just before an election.
His game plan is to bluff the opposition, the Greens, the minor parties and the independents in the Upper House into passing his laws or risk relentless vilification as irresponsible risk-takers with the safety of NSW residents. It is imperative, for the sake of innocent people who could be crushed, and the war effort, that the opposition forces in this state call Carr’s bluff.
My suggestion is this. Oversight of the new police powers should be vested in an experienced, independent person who the people of NSW trust. If our core protections against the abuse of government and police power must be suspended – which they must – then the people must feel supremely confident that their interests are being fully protected.
The names that come to my mind are:
* The NSW State Governor, Marie Bashir,
* The NSW Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, James Spigelman,
*. The former Hight Court chief justice Sir Gerard Brennan, now chancellor of the NSW University of Technology,
* The former NSW Chief Justice, Sir Lawrence Street,
* The former Governor Generals Sir William Deane and Sir Ninian Stephen.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people of NSW could discuss over the next week whom they wanted to entrust with the awesome responsibility of protecting them against terrorism AND abuse of State power? Perhaps the NSW Opposition will have the courage to call Mr Carr’s bluff and give the people of NSW the chance to trust again.
Tim Dunlop was a tragic loss to Webdiary when he left to blog at roadtosurfdom. This week, just before my run-in with Carr, he wrote a called “The false logic of the blame-the-victim accusation”. In it, he points out that while the right terrorises people who suggest that poverty is part of the cause of the rise of fundamentalist terrorism, the right makes the same suggestion when promoting the virtues of globalisation post September 11. Right-wing columnist Michael Duffy did it last week, as do the Americans when lauding the advantages of free trade deals. Much online discussion has ensued at Tim’s site. I recommend it.
It’s the end of a long week, and still Bob Carr has not met his public commitment to me on Tuesday that: “I will deliver you that quote” – the one he said proved that I blamed the Bali dead for the bombing. He has also not replied to my letter of Tuesday night enclosing everything I wrote on Bali and inviting him “to find one instance where I have blamed the Bali dead for the bombing, or said that Australian tourists in Bali provoked the bombing”.
Thus my only personal experience of Carr is that he cannot be trusted to keep his word, or to justify serious allegations against a citizen of NSW. If you can’t trust the Premier, you can’t trust the government.
Annabel Douglas-Hill in Laguna, Philippines
It’s a nightly treat to read jottings in the SMH online in this part of the world. Allow me to comment on Carr and his actions from the point of view of an expatriate.
His recent attack of you was childish and abusive and I was embarrassed for him for having lost control and showing anger in public, which in Asia entails a loss of face. My concern with Mr Carr is that he has not fully thought through his demand for increased surveillance, increased police rights and his refusal to allow the WTO dissenters to march.
He might feel he is doing the right thing by the State by being tough and dictatorial in a time of crisis and fear, but even President Arroyo, after starting tough when she first came to power under a violent and restive public, allowed her people the right to march on the 400 strong CGIAR meeting in Manila a fortnight ago.
Even though many of the visiting delegates are fighting against world poverty and economic inequality and a fair amount of CGIAR aid comes to the Philippines, she did not allow economic or terrorist pressures to prevent a fair debate by both sides. Ten points to Arroyo, Nil to Carr.
In the Philippines I am living under a more controlled and guarded lifestyle than in Australia, but no more so than in many other places of the world. You can get blase about seeing uniforms en masse, although North Korea might hold a shock for me still.
It has not missed my notice that there is a lack of respect for uniform in a country where so many people are authorised to carry guns, and wear uniforms and badges. We have had colleagues held up and their cars stolen by gangsters disguised in Army uniform, so that I sometimes wonder if I would stop my car if ordered to do so by anyone in uniform. Maybe through my fear of a drawn out kidnapping I would run them down and ask questions afterwards.
This distrust of uniform would not be unusual in an Australian migrant from a country where the police or army had been experienced as corrupt.
This sounds like an enticement for a police state, and perhaps it is due to over-exposure to uniform, but I no longer bat an eyelid when an armed guard opens the door for me to MacDonalds, or when a man walks jauntily down the street with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
Do we want a similar situation to develop in Australia, as it has shown a disturbing tendency to do over the last few years? Or shall we stomp our colonial feet bravely down in our Blunstones and set an example for the rest of the world to follow? Shall we decide to grow up, stop calling each other names when we hold opposing viewpoints, listen carefully to the views of our majority Muslim neighbours and instil some sanity into the world?
This includes demanding some respect from the USA, which has shown itself urgently in need of some honest advice and moral direction. This approach to terrorism is not appeasement but maturity.
What Carr must understand is that too much of a show of security will dull our respect and reliance on the uniform as a symbol of good. Does uniform have due respect in China, in North Korea, in Iraq?
If the police are allowed to behave as terrorists, even if they are given the right to break into a suspect’s home without a warrant, we will learn to distrust all uniform.
If people cannot march or attend conferences peacefully while under police protection or debate alternative points of view, how can I hold my home country up as a symbol of free speech and democracy to the Asian world?
Mr Mercurius in Summer Hill, NSW
I was going to give Fred Nile’s speech all the attention it deserves (none), however the predictably poll-driven, wedge-driven response of our Prime Minister, and the supportive comments Fred’s speech attracted inHerald ‘Have Your Say’ today (see ‘PM’s veiled comments on how Muslim women dress’, smh) gave me pause to reflect on the following:
* This is a week which saw law enforcement given unprecedented search-and-arrest anti-terrorism powers; against terrorist threats which according to Fred Nile extends to women wearing the chador.
* When Religion (of any persuasion) and State (of any persuasion) get together, they are a terrifying, and virtually unstoppable force.
* ‘Mainstream’ Australians really do hate anybody who looks different, acts different, dresses different or sounds different. Really. Hate. There’s just no point pretending otherwise any more.
* The fear and loathing driving political discourse in this country will serve only to perpetuate the terrorism it purports to be ‘at war’ with, and condemn the next generation of Australians to living with the fear, and the reality, of more murderous attacks.
* More than ever, we need to stand united in our diversity. The terrorists want to drive us apart, we must stand together.
* Those who talk about ‘integrating’ into society, about ‘you’re in our country, be like us’ etc are thinking like the terrorists. It is the same world-view that says ‘everybody must be like me, do what I do, believe what I believe. Or else.’
To paraphrase a great quote from the twentieth century:
“When they came for the asylum seekers, I did not speak up because I was not an asylum seeker. When they came for WTO protesters, I did not speak up because I was not a WTO protester. When they came for the journalists, I did not speak up because I was not a journalist. When they came for the muslim women in their chadors, I did not speak up because I was not a muslim woman in a chador. And when they came for me, there was nobody left to speak for me.”
For all of your comments about Carr and Costa, most of which I support, I still think the main game is being played elsewhere. For all of Carr’s excesses, at least he and others can’t be accused of cosying up to the rapidly evolving stupidity of Fred Nile.
Which is more than can be said for John Howard, who in these worrying times has decided to return to some effective, familiar old tactics:
Howard knows damn well that Nile has been flinging his own fundamentalist take on religion in other people’s faces for decades, yet refuses point blank to assure Muslim women that the cloth they wear won’t be branded illegal! Result: Muslim women face the fear of a Taliban-style legal imposition which prevents them from leaving their houses WITH these clothes on instead of without. Insane, no?
You’ve got to hand it to Howard: he’s good. Render the floated prejudice potentially respectable and name the target in a vague, obscurantist way and observe the response; if the response is negative then one can withdraw without having pushed too far. But if the response is supportive then go in for the kill. Quite like the old Chinese Communist tactic used when introducing policy or commencing a purge.
Shades of Asian immigration, Pauline Hanson and Tampa once more. In short, I do not trust John Howard to adequately defend this country from terrorists because he appoints bona fide incompetents to key ministries and is passionately committed to playing these dirty little political games of defending risible kooks like Nile (now disowned by Bishop Robert Forsyth, interestingly) and courting Nile’s followers no matter how absurd or offensive or frightening their utterances. This is at the expense of spending all his energy fortifying the entire Australian community to stand together in repelling terrorist elements.
Sadly, this kind of thing – unifying statesmanship and symbolism – has never been his forte, nor his priority for that matter. And it is clear now from his comments today that he is incapable of adapting himself to what is required in the national interest at the moment it is most needed.
His preparedness to comment on the role of Muslim dress off the top of his head, so ignorantly and so glibly – now an indispensable Australian characteristic, this – could only be interpreted by Australian Muslims as patronising, at best.
If I were Muslim, I would be incensed. But you can be sure that average Muslims – especially women and girls – will do what they have to do to get through these days: cop it sweet, keep the head down and the mouth shut.
It doesn’t augur well.
I can’t believe there is someone getting around calling himself Reverend espousing such vile bilge. The man is in parliament and obviously has no idea what the place should stand for. Surely one of the things that most people love most about this country is our freedom, however when attacked it seems to be one of the first things we are willing to give up.
Doug Wilson in Marsfield, NSW
Following your suggestion that the headdress of women should be removed, I feel that I must point out that people can hide weapons in other types of clothing so perhaps we should just follow these guidelines that I came up with:
Raincoats. Items can be concealed within them and henceforth should be banned (sorry to the people in Melbourne who have purchased these, but they are a risk).
Umbrellas. Swords or powders can be concealed in hollow umbrellas, so these will be banned as well. We encourage the women out there to not wear any hairstyles that will be messed up in the rain since you can’t wear a raincoat as well.
Hairstyles. Items such as guns or knives could potentially be hidden in longhair or hair that is quite “large” (think Marge Simpson). Thus maximum hairlength should be no more than 2 inches.
Dresses and pants. Items such as guns, explosives or other harmful materials could be concealed in these. Thus everyone must wear tight fitting shorts to ensure that nothing is contained within them.
Large winter coats. Much like the raincoats above, these should be banned. From henceforth in the winter everyone will just have to suffer.
Long sleeve shirts, sweaters and the like. Someone could conceal knives or other weapons within. So everyone should be made to wear t-shirts or more preferably muscle shirts to prevent this.
Any boxes or bags. These of course could contain bombs and thus should be banned as well. Everyone should have to carry everything in their hands.
I’m sure that if everyone followed these guidelines then we wouldn’t have to worry about any dangerous items being carried about on our cities. Here’s a $.50 piece Mr Nile, go and buy yourself a clue.
Helen Smart: Bob Carr on 2GB, November 19: “Margo Kingston, reportedly from – purportedly from the Sydney Morning Herald, who I cannot deal rationally with. …”. (Snort) Well, Bob, you did say it!….
Kate Carnell in Canberra: Bob Carr’s comments were totally out of line – pay no attention!!!
Kathryn Davy (first timer): I’m shocked and deeply concerned by Bob Carr’s behaviour. I have voted for him in the past, but I am so moved to anger by this that he will never get my vote again.
Kathy Kang: Carr’s treatment of you makes my stomach turn. It’s the last straw. I’m now in no doubt that we’re governed by thugs, and I don’t think he’s even ashamed of it. But even thugs cannot snuff out the lights of hope for a future democracy that is worthy of the name.
Tony Krone in Sydney
The Premier is racing to an election and his treatment of your questioning is appalling, particularly as he is proposing such far reaching legislation. So much for accountability. The Premier’s rush to judgment on Bali reminds me of the ‘children overboard’ nonsense put out by the Howard government. The press is here to question – good on you for representing that ideal.
I have refrained from making a webdiary public comment on the Carr business. However, I make the following observation:
Election Victory Landslide = Strong Mandate = Power = Deals = Arrogance = A Retreat from Principle = Laziness = Voter Disillusionment = More Arrogance = Byelection Problems = Blame the Victims = Blame the Media = Voter Revolt = Government by smear and deceit.
Orwell was right … just too early in his analysis.
Kylie Ann Scott in Haberfield, NSW
All I can say is that I hold grave fears for our state. I hold grave fears about Bob Carr, his tactics, his politics and the ancient Roman-style mechanisms that he uses.
We are dealing with a very deliberate, media savvy man knowledgeable in how to manipulate the masses here. We need to begin to look very closely at his words, his actions, his right hand men, and his mouth pieces.
And Question, Question, Question. We need to be very precise in those questions, because it is in the details that his blustering and fear mongering can’t work.
I could not believe what he did to you, and I felt your astonishment at his behavior. And later I felt angry. How stupid does he think we are? Keep asking precise questions on the detail.
Gillian and Paul Sloan in Sydney
Just finished your piece on your interview with Carr: Now another two Labour voters are lost. Where do we turn? It’s not Ernie Page’s fault (our local member for Coogee) but the NSW state government looks so ugly. Do they think fear, violence, abuse and ugliness will attract us? Is their policy to scare us into voting for them? Who is Carr talking to when he abuses you and treats us like we’re pig ignorant?
The content of the SMH and the discussions in Webdiary are part of the information sources we use when we discuss issues with friends and family – all are frustrated at the limited content we get from any other media source. Related to this is that we all notice we watch so much less TV!
I agree with Peter Gellatly about your run-in with Bob Carr – it was unwarranted and baseless for Carr to act in such a manner. Ergo sum, he is the one with the problem (or something to hide?) so don’t let it reflect badly on you. And like with all bullies, I also think the best way to treat such behaviour is to throw it back in their face – so it would be right to wear the incident like a badge of honour.
Being a literal person, I’m thinking you should wear this honour in the form of a t-shirt along the lines of the infamous “Free Winona” shirts. I can see it now – a t-shirt emblazoned with the words; “Bob Carr thinks I am a parody of a journalist”)
I admire your courage in the face of such frightening stupidity. I’ve read about the press conference incident with a mixture of despair, outrage and fear (come to think of it, most of the news these days engenders that reaction). In this situation, Carr is using the victims of the Bali bomb for his own political gain. By behaving the way he did, he evaded your question about Labor’s links to developers – very handy and utterly disgusting.
I’ve been tardy in attending protest rallies of late – that despair is pretty powerful – but Carr’s appalling and unaccountable behaviour, against a backdrop of increasing attacks on what remains of our democracy, has reignited my desire to protest and be involved. Thanks for providing a dissenting voice within the mainstream.
When I travelled to Bali many years ago I was uncomfortable being the Aussie there. But then I often felt that way in places where westerners spent time in third world tourist spots. It is simply a question of the discrepancy in wealth. The rich have their desires met without regard to local sensitivities. And of course the average local not in the tourist service industry gets none of the rewards and is often resentful.
This resentment is the root cause of a lot of problems. However this fact cannot be mentioned at the moment. To discuss causes is jumped upon by the hawkish in spirit as an attempt to get into appeasement.
Worse, as Bob Carr is doing now, is to accuse the contemplative of treason. No matter. Way of the world.
Interestingly, Bob Carr on Lateline this week said closer relations between the mainstream and muslim Sydney were being actively fostered and could be called “an anti-terrorist measure”. He thus admits that bad relations lead to resentment which can turn the murderous to terrorist action. So it just depends on which way around you put the argument!
Don’t get upset – all the leaders are on an adrenalin rush at the moment because they’re not having the usual discussions on bottom lines with treasury and are getting breathless briefings from spies and generals. They’re all on a high. They know they must act well to safeguard the population etc and fear they’ll stuff up, so they err on the side of the tough guy. They want to be Guliani (and their cheerleaders just want to rat on someone).
Anyway, Africa is where the real issues are. Let the “war” here play out and hope nothing bad happens. There ain’t much to do about it otherwise, I reckon.
Ken McLeod in Sydney
Dear Mr Carr,
As a member of the ALP, I am deeply concerned that your behaviour of late seems to be tending towards fascism rather than being true to our humanitarian roots. For example, your attack on Margo Kingston (“What happened in Bali was the murder of innocent Australians not people who were guilty because they were celebrating in a 3rd world country as you argued in the Sydney Morning Herald”) has all the hallmarks of Goebell’s tactics, such as:
– tell lies about anyone who queries your behaviour;
– remember that the bigger the lie the more likely it is that people will believe it;
– assign sinister, untrue, motives to them, (preferably Jewish, but any intellectual elite will do);
– never answer questions;
– use the machinery of State to overpower anybody who stands in your way;
– never forget that nobody remembers losers;
– and never, never, apologise.
How about you prove me wrong and prove that you are a real man and apologise to her.
Ken McLeod, ALP membership 020519
The point here is not what he accused you of – that’s between you and him – but why didn’t he answer your questions? Why did he keep bringing up the Bali bombings instead of answering the real questions about the new counter-terrorist powers being introduced in the State?
I don’t think these powers are a bad thing, but I would like our politicians to be accountable and at least answer the questions being presented to them. If they are so sure that what they are doing is right, they should have no difficulty.
This whole episode, and various other pieces of news I have been reading, seem to be showing that under this wave of fear politicians have just not been accountable for their actions, at both State and Federal levels.
First, there is no viable opposition from federal Labor. When met with opposition from the Labor party, such as Latham/Emerson, the media have just hacked into their language and presentability, instead of realising that some sort of opposition, in whatever un-mannered form it may take, is being presented.
Second, politicians feel they can use a climate of fear as a reason for almost anything. Terrorism is a valid threat, but should not be used whenever politicians need an excuse to legitimate their own agenda.
There are several important issues for our government to debate, and who will debate these? John Howard certainly can not hold a debate with himself, as he is presently being allowed to do. My concern especially at this point is the war on Iraq so obviously being prepared for.
Do we not have a right to question our politicians movements? Are not our politicians supposed to be representing us? I do not have 100% faith and trust in politicians but I do live in a democracy. In a democracy asking questions is a basic right. Australia as a nation cannot progress until it realises it is a nation in its own right, and can make its own decisions. It is not a shadow of the US, only an ally.
Bob Carr is right: You are not the sort of journalist wanted around the place. You ask challenging questions, and do not fawn in the face of power; you seem to think journalism is something more than rewriting government press releases, more than accepting CNN at face value. And as for Robert Fisk, what would he know?
No, the sort of journalists Carr and Howard want are those prepared to believe Osama is under every bed and who have no problems with the erosion of civil liberties. After all, the definition of democracy is ‘a reluctant trip to a polling booth every few years’; it is not an ongoing, daily commitment.
Don’t forget that Bob Carr has this long weird love affair with American history, and possibly wears the stars and stripes on his undies; I just wonder when he’ll come up with a local version of the Patriot Act. Or maybe he’ll have his legal apparatchiks whip up a draft for Howard to rush into Federal law.
Just a warning Margo. If you keep going the way you are, then maybe it won’t be too long before you are in an interrogation room, without an lawyer, in a seat previously warmed by a kid abducted on the way home from a local mosque, with maybe an ASIO quack injecting you with instant confession serum. Better pack your bag.
David Davis in Switzerland
What in the hell is going on down there? Carr is out of his tree and I feel sorry that you had to put up with such offensive behaviour.
I well remember the remarks you made re tourism and Western influence in Bali. I remember at the time reading it and thinking, “Well that isn’t my reaction”. On reflection, I thought that it was unfortunate that so often the interpretation is that we Westerners are always wrong and always the victimizers of all other cultures (of course often we are, but not always). That was the extent of my reaction. If I had interpreted your remarks to mean that those murdered by the terrorists were to blame, I would have been disgusted and would have stopped reading Webdiary. Clearly they were not to blame and no sane person has suggested that. I haven’t read that anywhere.
It is divisive and wrong to start picking apart the way people should react or what they should say. In any case ever since Bali happened, I haven’t seen you write a single sentence that was offensive or inappropriate, and I have read everything.
In fact, exactly the opposite aspect struck me. You were very supportive and extremely patriotic. I thought it was perfect. You may recall some even accused you of “mawkish sentimentality”. So what is the Margo Kingston reaction to Bali? Is it “blaming the dead” or “mawkish sentimentality”? It’s neither but I’d rather you be accused of the latter than the former.
None of this makes any sense. I smell a rat.
There are a lot of dots around Sydney and you seem to be connecting a few and highlighting others. The highlighted dots await connection! Clearly this makes you unpopular and perhaps threatening. In a sense the Carr reaction is flattering. You are getting under their collective skins and under his in particular.
I respect you even more because you have long identified yourself as left of centre and could not possibly be a more harsh critic of the PM. Right after Bali, you complimented him. This proves a somewhat open mind.
I don’t know if it is Carr arrogance or desperation. It probably doesn’t matter because in politics either one of these things is death at the polls. I’m now convinced that he is finished.
Can I start writing up the synopsis for the Sunday after the election? You know how it goes. We have seen this write-up before. “In a last minute upset, the highly successful premier was defeated by the dark horse. Some put it down to the Premier’s arrogance which grew during his term in office and….blah blah blah.”
The remark that you are a parody of a journalist is in itself amusing. Saying over and over that you blamed “the Bali dead” and then wrapping it up with “you are a parody of a journalist” – what does that make him? I reckon it’s got to be a caricature of a cretin. Whichever way you look at it, reality is lost in this kind of process. We are left with parodies and caricatures.
If the Premier feels comfortable in drawing outrageous conclusions, I’ll end with a quote from history. A history we are taught to never forget. “The bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed” (Joseph Goebbels – Ministry of Propaganda). Probably it also helps to repeat a lie. They tell you that in the second lecture of Propaganda 101. So if I were him and it comes up again, I’d come out swinging and just repeat it. Of course Margo blamed the victims. We know that and she should be discredited as a result of it. Say it over and over and suddenly it becomes true.
The disconcerting aspect is that it is hard to know whether to laugh or to be scared. I’m leaning towards being scared. We are definitely in deep trouble and you don’t have to look far to see more and more evidence of this changed environment.
PS: A bit of history. Remember the hand that signed the paper? He signed the paper to allow the various toasters (high rise apartments) at East Circular Quay to be constructed. This was when he was Environment Minister. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. In the dying days of the Unsworth government, Bob Carr put that millstone of East Circular Quay around our collective necks. It’s pretty bloody easy to say “I set aside this national park and that national park” in areas no one cares about anyway. He’s always been Bob the Builder and one of his biggest accomplishments was even before he took office as Premier – those hideous buildings right next to and virtually overshadowing the Opera House, the greatest building of the 20th century. Never forget who did that. Bob the Builder. Don’t believe the sensible sun hat and “oh, but I don’t drive” routine.