Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gather Ye Now Among Thy Tribes!

As it is deemed appropriate at this time of year to engage in hypocritical acts of piety, Let's Ask Elroy!™ humbly offers the follwing biblical tract for your consideration. In keeping with all religious zealots, Let's Ask Elroy!™ bears absolutely no responsibility for the following, nor credit for it, just to say that it is without possible doubt 110% true.

From the Book of Kevin:

Gather ye now among thy tribes and among thy families and then shalt thou rest, for the year runneth its course. Put aside therefore thy labours and place thy trust in thy investments, and possibly thy investments in thy trust.

For it came to pass that there were great changes in the land. For John was their leader, yea even unto eleven years and the land was covered in darkness and darkness was upon the face of the deep and there were troubles in the land without number, and there was war. And the money-lenders cranketh up rates, despite John’s claim that he keepeth them from being cranked. For John was old and weak and thought only of the past, and he was sore afraid and his confusion was manifold. And he knoweth not what to do.

And John sayeth unto Peter, ‘You are the anointed one. You will take my place. So get thee hence and wait.’ And Peter goeth ‘Why promiseth thou me this? And why, having promised, deliverest thou not? For we have had this conversation before and it shitteth me.’

And John smiled. And did nothing. For he knew that Peter pulleth not the skin from a rice pudding, and that he doeth nothing and abideth his time, which was fruitless.

But John gathereth about him the Pharisees and he spake unto them, saying ‘Bretheren, there shall be a reckoning. And mighty shall be our victory over those who oppose us. For we have found an infidel in Queensland and his name is Haneef and he is a healer of the sick. And he shall be deported without trial. For there will be no trial. For there will be no charges. For he has done nothing wrong. And he is not the infidel.'

And the people saw this. And they shook their heads. And yea, though John be old and hopeless, he walketh still each morning in the suit of track, and he waveth to his people. And his people waveth back. But after John passeth by, his people turneth each to the other and they sayeth each privately ‘lo, he looketh a great tool.’

But the scribes saw not. Nor did they write. For they mostly contemplateth the Lillies of the field and the Marshes and the Warnies and the Abletts and the Judds. For obsesseth they with sport. For those who record events in the land are concerned with the line that is bottom. For that is the way it works for ever and ever. Amen.

So the scribes sensed not what the people knew. But there was anger in the land. For the people haveth John up to here.

For there were those who would come across the sea and they were placed in the centre that is detention.

And there were those who were in the land since time immemorial and John spoke not to them.

But John spoke freely to others. For he told them stories. For example he told them there were unbelievers, who would attack the land. And John said they numbered many millions and would smite us, for they were evil and full of hate and we were the lamb of God and had done nothing. For John gave his people a fridge magnet.

For John faileth to understand the metaphor of the burning Bush.

For there was also a plague which causeth the land to become warmer.

And this was a huge surprise.

For this was not understood by science until thirty years previously.

But John denieth this three times. For John calleth this a drought. But the people suspecteth something more permanent. For they worked on the land. And neither were they born yesterday. Nor cometh they down with the last shower. For there was no shower.

For who was John kidding?

And there was great confusion in the land and the people were sore afraid.

And then John introduced new laws; that man might profit not from his own work but from the work of others.

And the people sayeth to John ‘John. You are great and have all power and are wise and we wish to use the band that is called broad.’

And John shruggeth his shoulders and spake unto the people as follows; ‘What band is it that is called broad. I know nothing about any such band. Now begone, as I have to call George. ‘

And the people giveth up. For they knew that cometh the reckoning, fixeth up they John in spades.

And there was a crack of thunder and a mighty wind and lo, there was a light in the east. A bright light. And there were three wise women. And they were Julia and Penny and Nicola.

And they came upon a house in Canberra and they said ‘Prepare ye. For a child will be born, whose name shall be called Kevin. And even though he perhaps be not thy saviour, he be something to be going on with.’

And great hosannas rang out and booths opened for the reckoning, and great was the polling therein. And there was slide of land and he that is called Kerry announceth a swing to the ABC. For verily it was so. And the people looked at their work and saw that it was good.

For John was defeated and lost, and ebbeth he and his kind like the tide. And lo, Peter had a note from his mother and was excused leadership duties. And electeth they Brendan, who knoweth fanny adams and who loveth Brendan with all his heart.

And so it was that Kevin became a leader. And he spake unto his people and they fell into a swound for Kevin haveth many qualities but he hath not brevity.

For the people did not need a lecture. For they understood the problems. For they put Kevin there, rather than the other way round.

But the three wise women saw. And they took Kevin out the back and explaineth they things very firmly to Kevin. ‘Kevin’ they said. ‘There is a time to every purpose. A time for speaking and a time for shutting thy face. We will give you a signal. For boreth ye not thy people.’

And Kevin recogniseth that he had fallen among friends and he was pleased. For he had learnt to read signals.

And the people rested. For it was a time of feasting and gift-giving and crippling debt. They would eat and drink. For they would need to be ready for work when they got back.

For the place was a shambles.

From The Book of Kevin 12; 15-73; The Gospel According to the Crikey Psephological Observation Unit.

Praise be! Let's Ask Elroy¡™ will be back real soon with something he thought up himself so please, don't go away!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

So. Farewell then...

So. Farewell then, John Winston Howard.
You have had such fun
You and your agenda
That made Robert Menzies
Look like Hugo Chavez
But the ride
Is over

It all started
On the waterfront
Your first try at
Usurping democracy
It didn’t work but
Never mind
Better luck next time, hey?

You helped start a war
Because a Texan Bush
Told you that a bad man
Tried to kill his daddy
And that the bad man had nasty
Toys given to him
By his daddy’s friends

But it would be alright
Because no one liked
The bad man anyway
And the people
Would welcome you with flowers
And embrace your ‘democracy’
Or else

Five years later
You have killed the bad man
And eight hundred thousand
Of his oppressed people
Four million more
Are homeless
And the nasty toys are nowhere to be found

Then a bunch of those people
Whose country you bombed
Got on a boat
And came to stay
Because, they thought
The enemy of my enemy
Is my friend

But you put them on
Another boat and
Played football with them
Until the election was won
‘We will decide who enters our country
And the circumstances in which they come’
You pouted

Your bottom lip trembled
As you solemnly swore
That they had thrown their children
They hadn’t
But you didn’t know
You never watched the video

And those people that you
Kidnapped spent
Years being boiled and
Beaten in the desert
Before someone decided
That they were really refugees
All along

And then we found out you
Gave three hundred million bucks
To the bad man
You were here at war with!
Our dollars blew up
Their homes and our troops!

An Australian citizen
Was left to rot
And be tortured
In a foreign jail
But you said nothing
To the Texan Bush

As you are
A lawyer
I have two words
For you

But it wasn’t your fault
You didn’t know
Nobody told you
And you didn’t say
They had
In so many

And what about the time
You deported that doctor
Because his cousin
Knew a bloke that
Knew a guy
Oh, never mind.

And what about the time
You deported those people
Because they
Spoke funny
They were Australian citizens
But don’t you worry
About that!

And when your brother
Was found to be about
To leave his workers
The government stumped up
Blood is thicker
Than principle

Then you decided
That the only way
To compete
With China
Was to compete
With China
With our wages

And for some reason
We are not allowed
To collectively bargain
With an independent arbitrator
Tell me
How do you like
The parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal?

But wait – there’s more
So much more
The barrels of Pork
The ‘government’ adveritising’
The anti-terror laws
But unlike the list
Time is not endless

So. Farewell then, John Winston Howard
And farewell to your lies
Your weasel words
Your obfuscation
May you retire
To a nursing home
Exposed by A Current Affair

Do it! Do it NOW!

For all those wavering today I urge you to go for the K-Ruddster, not that you should be in any doubt as to your intentions one way or the oher by this late stage in the game. Why? I'll let our good friends at explain – this as good a reason as any:

'A vote to return the Government is a vote for maximum risk. The risk of more-of-the-same policies when policy flourish is badly needed. The risk of a bitter leadership bunfight within a year or less as senior ministers attempt to get even with John Howard for inflicting on them the unnecessary pain of the past few months.

The increasing risk of overweening moments from ministers like Abbott, Downer, Ruddock and Minchin (and Howard) on their last laps. And the risk of more hubris-infected decisions as the culture wars are fought to their denouement by an ideologically-driven government heading towards its 14th year under the same tired leadership.

A vote for Labor is a vote for least risk. Economic policy will be cautious, industrial relations policy will be benign, foreign policy will be prudent and social change will be incremental but interesting.

This will be a pragmatic government setting out to establish the platform for 14 years in power, not the other way round. The biggest risk in electing a Rudd government is that they don't unveil some flair and foresight. The risk to Australia of returning a Howard government is far greater than the risk of giving the other mob a go.'

That makes sense to me, so time to go forth and do your democratic duty1

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Proctect Us From The Protectors!

The Australian Federal Government is there to protect us from unscrupulous behaviour, or should that now be 'protect' us because, according to current Health minister and ex-lay Catholic priest, ex-boxer Tony 'Mad Monk' Abbott there is a difference between 'Protections' and ' "Protections" '. Unfortunately it is not entirely clear what that difference is, so let's have a look at what happened exactly.

'I accept that certain “protections” - in inverted commas - are not what they were.'

Elroy is sad to report that the Mad Monk did actually do the "inverted commas" thing with his fingers, which actually makes it worse for him as that now indispensable facet of 21st Century conversation usually denotes 'so-called' or 'supposed, a'euphemism' of some sort, and is generally accompanied with a degree of eye-rolling; it gives the distinct impression that he didn't think workers should have had protections in the first place, that they were for wusses and namby-pamby nanny-staters who wouldn't know a hard day's work if it offered them an AWA.

'That whole raft of regulation expressed in awards that sometimes ran into hundreds, even thousands of pages, I accept that that has largely gone.'

There. The regulations that govern worker's awards that were built up over decades of pressure and struggle by the workers themselves are gone. Largely.

'I accept that. I accept that the Industrial Relations Commission doesn’t have the same power to reach into the nook and cranny of every business that it used to have. I accept that.'

To Elroy, this says that employers are now free of the scrutiny once imposed by the IRC and that without it they are free to abuse their workers. It's pretty clear and unequivocal, and the day after Abbott said it he was unrepentant – indeed, he went on telly to defend what he termed his 'excellent remarks' by saying that the protections lost were 'counter-productive' and 'pseudo protections', but he still will not say what those protections are. Holiday loadings? Unfair dismissal? What?

I really don't understand what the Libs are on about. Abbott said it and he even said that he said it and, what's more, that it was jolly good thing to say!

But suddenly he has freaked out, having realised that telling the truth is not a great idea for the coalition, and is blaming everyone else! For what he said! This from the party of personal responsibility! But I suppose he couldn't have really said what he said because Liberal Party Prime Minister 'Honest' John Howard said so. 'Tony Abbott did not say that protection had been taken away for workers.' Oh. I see. Silly Elroy.

Abbott is now saying that a video of him saying what he said was 'doctored' and ‘edited’ (it wasn't) and that he was, as conservatives always seem to be (according to conservatives), taken out of context (he wasn't). Word to the wise, Tony – if you're going to say that you have been taken out of context then you need say what the correct context is, and this you are yet to do. Still, Elroy is nothing but helpful so he's going to help you out. The Monkster says that the rest of his comment helps explain what he was on about, so lets have a peek.

'But in the end, the best protection for the worker who feels he or she might be under pressure at his job is the chance of another job, the chance of a better job. That is the best protection. Not going off to some judge or Industrial Commission that might order your employer, who you don’t like and he doesn’t like you, to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever.

So that is the best protection that we can give people, the protection of an abundance of jobs, the protection of an economy which is crying out for more workers'

Yes, the Mad Monk says that he was trying to make the point that the best 'protection' (my inverted commas) is the opportunity to get another job, to just walk out and get another job elsewhere. He tells us that there are plenty of jobs and people need to get over this idea that they are entitled to a job for life, not because it is no longer possible to do that thanks to the coalition's deregulated and 'flexible' labour market but because a job for life is no longer necessary – who needs a safety net? The market will provide!

Ok, lets call him on it. He's a youngish man (he turned fifty a fortnight ago), as is Treasurer Peter 'Smirk' Costello, Defence Minister Brendan 'Which side am I on?’ Nelson et al, with a solid future (he certainly isn't going to starve) and,as he said, he has the best protection a working man could want – the opportunity of picking up one of the myriad of jobs that are dangling out there like so much fruit and maybe even make more money.

So, as one of the 'protections' lost to over the years was the right to most of one's redundancy pay – the government reduced companies' bottom line legal requirement for paying out downsized and sacked workers to eight weeks pay, no matter how much they were actually owed – so Elroy challenges Abbott and all his little friends who are about to find themselves a-twiddling their thumbs come the 25th of November to reduce the amount of super he draws after leaving Canberra to the equivalent of what the great unwashed are now entitled to as a safety net – eight weeks pay.

The official argument is that politicians deserve their massive pensions because they have given up what could have been a prosperous career to, sob, serve the public, and that 'quality people' basically need to be bribed to do it with a more than fair salary, a 'pay peanuts – get monkeys' philosophy that means that our average elected representatives receive a base wage of $127,000, well over twice the national average wage of $52,000, for their time and trouble.

However, Elroy remembers conservative line that was run against a nurses' wage claim which basically said that paying nurses too much would mean that the profession would attract 'the wrong kind of people', that is people who were in it for the money, but Elroy says that if that argument is good enough for the nurses then surely it also applies to politicians – after all, we wouldn't want mere careerists in our Parliaments would we? Men and women who go into a job just for the money?

It was traditionally the parties of the left that agitated for members of parliament to be paid as their members were far more likely to be blue-collar comrades who could not afford to take time off from t'mill to gallivant down the Halls of Power – however, as it was deemed that means testing this would obviously be an insufferable impingement on the wealthy's natural born right to suck up whatever share of resources they can possibly get away with, it also meant that we have the unedifying spectacle of more-than-comfy Multi-millionaire merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull hoovering up the paltry parliamentary stipend and add it to his already groaning money pit, mopping up what for him is basically claret money. Just like Bill Gates and Tiger Woods don't do what they do to keep the banks off their backs, Malcolm Turnbull is not in politics for the cash; no, what drives careerists like Abbott and dilettantes like Mal is far worse than mere mammon.

It may be true that high level bureaucrats get paid even more than politicians, and it is argued that maybe they deserve it because they do not get the pollies’ super chubby life-time pensions and other outrageous perks and lurks – although the politicians use the mandarins’ hefty whack to cry poor and remind the population of their selfless martyrdom – but the Honourable Members get a perk that very few invisible pen-pusher ever manage to muster, the ultimate aphrodisiac – power.

Yes, that's the cruel reality of modern politics – they don't just do it for the money! In fact, for the amount of power, prestige, kudos, clout and opportunities to clean up in a private corporate sector so cruelly denied a member's obviously superior talents for so long it is quite probable that a lot of them would do it for nothing but, as this would swing us back 100 years or so, Elroy proposes that MPs be put on pay scale and super benefits equal to nurses, teachers, emergency services workers etc. After all, they are all public servants – although nurses, teachers and emergency service workers do actually have recognizable qualifications relevant to their occupations – to do their jobs – and none of them have the access to the power and wealth generating possibilities that await any left-out legislators.

This could have many benefits; it could make sure that nurses, teachers and emergency service workers etc, get paid a reasonable amount and would keep the pollies from becoming their own class – there’d be nothing like rifling the shrapnel jar for tram fare to bring their thinking into line with mainstream concerns.

So why should Abbott and his chums be allowed to bludge off the taxpayer into their dotage? Why do they need the "protection" offered by the Remuneration Tribunal and its wildly generous superannuation scheme? After all, who gets a job for life?

Not the workers. Not anymore. Who gets paid a more than comfortable living wage for doing nothing? Not the unemployed, who the ruling elites now openly admit were lied to for the past twenty years when they were told that the only reason they had no job was that they were too lazy. Abbott even had a term for anyone picky enough to want to choose what it is they do with their life – ‘Job snobs.’

No, the only people who, if they happen to lose their comfy gig, get compensated with a lifetime of supreme taxpayer largesse are politician after merely eight years service are politicians, whether or not they go on to live a full and rapacious life revealing state secrets to the corporate concern that bought what principles said pollie might have ever had, so when they waltz out of Parliament House with a fist full of enough super to keep the Grange flowing until the great division bell rings forth in the hereafter, wait an hour and take a fabulously well paid 'consultancy' with whatever private enterprise is closest to the portfolio he has just left hanging in mid-air, they should lose their eight weeks worth.

But the notion that politicians should be subjected to the rules they devise for the rest of us does not sit well with the Mad Monk, nor is he too enamoured of the bootless and unhorsed’s stubborn refusal to fully appreciate his noble sacrifice.

‘They expect their MPs to be celebrities and, at the same time, just like them.’

What’s up Tony? Here’s the news, darl; we don’t expect our MPs to be celebrities – we’d be more than happy to never have to see you at all, to be safe in the knowledge that you are somewhere performing your thankless tasks, for which you are so handsomely remunerated, in the blissful anonymity you so obviously crave – to be, as you say, just like us.

But no, you are thrust, nay, forced, nay, dragged kicking and screaming by galloping horses in front of those prying cameras to explain yourself to the churlish mob. Poor Tone. But I’m interested in why Abbott thinks that being an, um, ‘celebrity’ somehow precludes one from being normal or, as he suggests, ‘just like us’. Are the two really mutually exclusive? And if so, how has he solved his dilemma? Has he remained a normal Joe? Or is he indeed a complete wanker?

But wait! There’s more! In the same breath he continues with

‘…to be content with a fraction of the earnings of corporate high-flyers..'

Golly! This statement presupposes the fact that Tony is of such superior mettle that corporate high-flying was his for the taking, although there is nothing to substantiate this apart from his monstrosity of an ego.

‘while working seven days a week in a hyper-responsible job.’

What? Like every other poor bastard on an AWA? Seven day weeks are nothing unusual anymore thanks to your party’s labour market ‘reforms’ so stop whining and get on with it! And, quite honestly, how is being a politician ‘hyper-responsible’? How is it any more responsible than a thousand other occupations like running a hospital emergency department, a school or a fire department?

As far as Elroy can tell, politicians and particularly conservative politicians take no responsibility whatsoever! Look at the travesties that have occurred over the life of the Liberal government since 1996 – the Waterfront dispute, the Tampa crisis, the Pacific Solution, Woomera and Baxter, DIMIA catastrophes, the Iraq fucking War, AWB, WorkChoices, the Lib/Nat pork barrel, the NT Intervention, David Hicks, the list goes on – and show me one pollie who has ever put their hand up for any of them.

None of our elected servants has ever got up, put down his magnum of Grange and said ‘Yup, that was all my fault, I completely fucked it up and I hereby resign and surrender any rights I may have to my superannuation. I have let myself down, my party down, but most importantly I have let the country down – I don’t deserve anything but your anger and disappointment and I will now dedicated my life outside of the government to righting the wrongs I have committed. Thank you.'

No, what actually happens is they get promoted, moved sideways or sent to arduous locations like Rome or London, but when we remember what Tony really wants to be doing, flying high in a corporate sky, then it all makes sense because this is the standard of responsibility of the corporate world.

Actually, it isn’t. The standard of responsibility in the corporate world is for CEOs to fuck off with more money than can be contained in a fleet of Airbus 380s and put your feet up on a tropical isle and/or 300-room mansion of your choice, which explains why Abbott is so disgruntled. Fuck-up politicians get to say ‘My staff never told me’ and keep their job; fuck-up CEOs get to say ‘My Swiss bank account number is…’ and keep the cash.

But a good whinge never goes astray, and our Tony doesn’t let us down as he puts on his best Jewish grandmother/Joan of Arc hat and grizzles thus:

‘Nothing but the best is good enough from Australian politicians and, the better it becomes, the more zealously voters reserve their right to raise their expectations.’

Wow! Imagine being expected to be good at your job! And that ‘the better it becomes, the more zealously voters reserve their right to raise their expectations’ bit? In the real world we call it ‘productivity’. What a pity Tony’s not on an AWA.

Hey! There’s an idea! AWAs for the pollies! Performance based pay! Individually negotiate a base income, somewhere around $30,000 depending on the individual’s ability to haggle, and then pay bonuses base on pre-determined outcomes and the success of the policies they are proposing.

For instance, if the Minister for Aged Health has a policy to provide X amount of nursing home beds then those beds must eventuate, otherwise the Minister will be out of pocket – that should focus their attention on getting it right – but I’ve got a feeling that they’re going to stay with the decisions of the Remuneration Tribunal, an ‘independent’ three member board featuring such disinterested corporate lapdogs as owner of 2UE, director of BHP and chairman of Energy Australia John Conde. This statutory government body constitutes nothing less than a centralized wage-fixing system, a concept that is very bad for us but apparently tolerable for them. Poor politicians – what they go through!

But dear Tony is not finished with his petard just yet. Not only is he somewhat miffed at having to produce satisfactory results for his employer (Oh! The injustice of it all!), but Abbott is also of the opinion that the seething multitude whom he was called to serve are just plain ungrateful as they contemplate swapping those stout chaps that are performing such great and sterling work as flogging the country off to all comers for a bunch of pinko, rabble-rousing neophytes who think that inflation is something that happens to fund raising balloons.

He is truly mystified by the great uwashed’s disinclination to sing hosannas and re-elect the Liberals for yet another interminable term of office with an 100% majority in both houses and grumbled that the government was being robbed “of the usual reward for being good at its job', forgetting that if 50.001% of the electorate decided that the government wasn’t that good at its job, well, it was goodnight Charlie – not that such an eventuality would see the Mad Monk trotting down to Centrelink mind you, it would just mean that he would have to sit on the…wait for it…opposition benches, and this is obviously beyond the pale. Him! Tony Abbott! Condemned, as former Labor Foreign Minister Gareth ‘Gareth’ Evans called ‘the irrelevancy of opposition’! For shame!

So if this thankless task is just too much for effort for not enough pay, here’s an idea, Tony – don’t do it! Remember what you said?

'But in the end, the best protection for the worker who feels he or she might be under pressure at his job is the chance of another job, the chance of a better job. That is the best protection. Not going off to some judge or Industrial Commission that might order your employer, who you don’t like and he doesn’t like you, to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever.’

So poor Tony’s obviously under pressure at his job, but he won’t be needing the ‘protection’ afforded him by the Remuneration Tribunal –if he finds that his employer doesn’t like him, and on Saturday we’ll find out if that’s the case, he can just fuck off and drive a front-end loader around the open-cut bauxite mines of the wild West in splendid isolation! And it pays better too! Or will that not be quite his speed? Oh my god! He’s not a job snob is he?

Needless to say Tony was born with a full 40-place silver service cutlery set in his capacious gob, and his sense of entitlement is second only to that of Imelda Marcos – if he is what stands between us and the ravages of the free fucking markets then, please, god, protect us from the protectors.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fascist Watch – One More Minute To Midnight.

As the USA gets in ever more of a tizzy about ‘Islamofascists’ in general and Iranian ones in particular, attention starts to turn to what exactly is fascism and who, if anybody, is really the fascist now. The bombs are lobbed into both sides of the trenches as the Right point to the Left’s propensity for collectivisation, what the Right sneer at as ‘group-think’ but, quite honestly, on balance it’s not looking good for ol’ Uncle Sam.

The defenders of the status quo, the neo-con nutbags currently trying to rationalize their insanity in the Middle East by suggesting they commit more, claim that they are the true defenders of freedom and, in a text-book demonstration of Fruedian projection, accuse the left of being the heirs of Adolf and Benito.

As ‘evidence’ they squeal that liberals must be fascists because, well, they are vegetarians, they like organic food, and Hitler was a vegetarian wasn’t he? There you go then! Case closed! Indeed, the publisher’s blurb for the forthcoming and highly anticipated tome ‘Liberal Fascism’, a promisingly puzzling screed by Fox News darling and conservative ‘humorist’ Jonah Goldberg which was supposed to be published in April 2005 but whose current release date is now January 2008 and waiting, mentions liberals’ love of free health care and guaranteed jobs, supported abortion, euthanasia, public education, gun control, state-funded aged pensions and a racial quota system in their universities while hating inherited wealth, smoking and the free market as proof of lefties’ desire for totalitarian rule.

Jonah’s somewhat flimsy analogy appears to be premised on the notion that Mussolini was a former socialist and the Nazi Party’s full name is Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei or, for the less Krautian among us, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, which apparently means that anyone vaguely progressive must be a fascist! Well, if that makes Elroy a jackbooted blackshirt then show him the way to the next Beirkeller! Who would want to live in a society where people were educated, healthy and employed? Baby-eating fascists! And, of course, liberal leftie treehuggers.

Goldberg happily ignores, or WILL happily ignore, the fact that he once said ‘If someone isn't advocating the murder of millions of people in gas chambers and a global Reich for the White Man you shouldn't assume he's a Nazi and you should know it's pretty damn evil to call him one’, and will attempt to turn white into black; however, as that release date become ever more elusive, Elroy wonders whether Jonah’s little literary sleight of hand is proving just a little tad trickier to perform than originally intended when he started to spend his advance, purely because it is a load of bollocks, and as witness for the defense we present good old Benito Mussolini himself. ‘Fascism is definitely and absolutely opposed’ he bloviated in 1932’s The Doctrines Of Fascism ‘to the doctrines of liberalism, both in the political and economic sphere’. There. And he should know.

Such are the tactics of the right, from Anne Coulter to David Horowitz and, to be fair, such are the tactics of the left; they concentrate of fascism’s more unpleasant characteristics, the extreme nationalism and all attendant myths, the belief in military aggression, secrecy and propaganda, the confluence of state and corporate power, willingness to jail dissidents, murder scapegoats, pervert elections and seduce a population into submitting to an all-powerful leader who has placed himself above the law, all in the name of God.

Now, it is true to say that doctrinaire communism as practiced by them damned Ruskies also featured some of the above, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone endorsing them at, say, or the Daily Kos or, for that matter Let’s Ask Elroy!™. However, there are many worthy publications bending bookshelves across the civilized world about how the deeply, deeply corrosive policies of the Bush regime are more than reminiscent of those less pleasant characteristics of fascism, and although the Right take the higher moral how-dare-you ground when faced with such accusations, titles such as Goldberg’s level it with the bulldozer of hypocrisy and leave them wide open to whatever slings and arrows outrageous fortune cares to lob their way.

At this point the gentle reader might expect Elroy to launch into a 12,846,826 word rantathon about how the only difference between Bush and Hitler is the length of their respective moustaches (Answer: More than there should be), but he is going to show some uncharacteristic restraint and leave that to Edward Jayne in his wryly amusing 31 Similarities Between Hitler And President Bush, and Naomi Klein’s Fascist America In Ten Easy Steps, two fairly succinct articles to get youse in the mood, 1995’s Eternal Fascism – 14 Ways Of Looking At A Blackshirt by Umberto Eco , a piece echoed in a 2003 article by Dr. Lawrence Britt named The 14 Characteristics Of Fascism and, for a historical perspective, Fascism Part II: The Rise of American Fascism by R.G. Price

(Elroy would also like to highly recommend Klein’s The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot and American Fascists – The Christian Right And Its War On America by Chris Hedges.

But enough of theory. ‘It’s all very well blathering on’ I hear you sigh, ‘but is there any solid proof?’ ‘Well’ I retort, ‘what sort of proof would you like? How about legislation passed within the last six months?’

The more observant among you (Yes, I’m looking at you) would have noticed in Elroy’s landmark Webessay Ejected, Neglected And Unelected – Blair, Howard, Bush And What Awaits Us the discussion of George W. Bush signing the National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, a piece of legislation which ‘granted him virtual dictatorial powers in the event of a declared Catastrophic National Emergency, such an emergency being defined as ‘any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions.’

‘In short’ Elroy’s masterwork continues, ‘this Executive Order allows Bush to assume power to direct any and all government and business activities without congressional approval or oversight. He has now put in place power to arbitrarily and unilaterally impose martial law, suspend the Constitution, assume virtual dictatorial power, deploy under his command military forces into U.S. cities to round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats, and retain control of all federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, military personnel, law enforcement agencies and private sector organizations until the CNE is declared over. And who declares the CNE over? That’s right…

So why is Elroy hauling over old ground like this? Because the situation has gotten decidedly worse. I draw your attention to the phrase ‘round up citizens declared by his regime to be enemy combatants or security threats’ – who are they? What citizens are to be deemed a security threat?

Enter stage right – H.R. 1955: The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007! This charming spot of legislation is the missing piece in the totalitarian puzzle that helps define just who those unfortunate citizens declared to be enemy combatants or security threats might be and what they will have to do to be one. C’mon, kids – let’s parse a-while!

(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

But what, pray, is an ‘extremist' belief system’? And who decides? Well, funnily enough it is to be a commission appointed by our friends over at the White House and the White House itself that get to say what an extremist belief system happens to be, and Elroy is happy to punt on the chances that it would not include anything concerning James Dobson, Pat Buchanan, Tim LaHaye or R. J. Rushdoony, all of which represent forms of Christianity which make the Taliban look decidedly comfortable and relaxed – No, Elroy is willing to bet the farm that it will be those with a more leftie orientated state of mind who suddenly find themselves to enemies of the state.

But surely this can only refer to any bomb-throwing nutbags caught in the act of fomenting violent revolution? Um…proceed, O gentle reader…

(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

Uh huh. So merely discussing violence on the internets is enough to secure a free trip to Cuba. But what, according to the act, is ‘violence?’

(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically-based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

Suddenly then, the Act becomes The FORCEFUL Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, but force isn’t violence – force could be a strenuous argument, or having to make an unpleasant choice (‘I didn’t want to vote for Kevin Rudd but I was forced to because of Workchoices) but the act is dangerously vague on what both ‘force’ and ‘violence‘ are.

Will it see the jailing of protesters? After all, 100,000 people marching with placards, bullhorns and a worthy cause could be considered pretty forceful, but far be it from Elroy to suggest that the Bush regime distorts and twists language and definitions to suit its agenda.

So, add The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 to The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive and The Military Commissions Act of 2006, another piece of freedom-lovin’™ law that allows ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ to be detained indefinitely, Habeas Corpus be damned, at anyone of over 500 Halliburton detention centers dotted around mainland USA to be subjected to ‘intensive interrogation techniques’, and you create the necessary conditions for a US president to declare martial law just about anytime and imprison just about anybody anywhere and torture them for any amount of time.

Scary, huh? Good job the House Committee on Homeland Security is on the case! Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore), a member of said committee, applied for access to the post-terrorist attack plan for the continuity of government as many of his constituents had complained of a ‘conspiracy’ buried in the fine print, but guess what? Access denied!

‘I just can't believe they're going to deny a member of Congress the right of reviewing how they plan to conduct the government of the United States after a significant terrorist attack’ DeFazio said, ‘I would think that would be relevant to any member of Congress, let alone a member of the Homeland Security Committee…maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right’.

How very reassuring! Thank god, then, that the Democratic Party have the majority in both houses! They should be able to scupper The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 before it makes it to the floor, right? Right?

Um, The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 was passed on Tuesday 404 – 6. Oh dear.

So the fascism watch just moved one more minute to midnight. All the articles of law are now in place, and as there is little point in putting new laws on the books in you don’t intend to use them, Americans should be afraid, very afraid, and heed the words of former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer when he said ‘Americans need to watch what they do, and watch what they say’.

Ah, what a good job the USA is the Home of the Free™!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blacks Are The New Whites

On Thursday the 11th of October 'Honest' John Howard, the Australian conservative Prime Minister who is staring down the barrel of electoral obliteration, woke up, copped an overwhelming snoutful of coffee and roses and executed a 180º triple backflip with pike, trout and flounder (degree of difficulty – unknown and unknowable) in declaring his love of the aboriginal people he has just finished finishing off. Once again the constitution was in his sights as he pledged, as he has a wont of doing, to add a preamble to that sacred document this time stating that blackfellas are grouse, that they are our ‘mates’ and that we probably shouldn’t have spent nations the first 150 years hunting them like dogs.

Out of the blue, symbolic reconciliation has become paramount to Dear Leader. It wasn’t so important to him when he officially declared war on black Australia back in 1996 when, as his first act as PM, he attempted to knobble ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) by appointing an administrator, and it was certainly not on his radar when he implanted his vile ’10 point plan’ to gut the High Court’s landmark Wik decision in 1997.

It didn’t put him off the Weaties he eventually wolfed down after sleeping in during 2000’s Bridge Walks for Reconciliation, and neither did he didn’t loose many ZZZs when he hurled the whole concept of reconciliation overboard in 2004 and sent the 'Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Reconciliation’ portfolio the way of button shoes, followed swiftly in 2005 by ATSIC.

There are myriad other examples of his hatred of the aboriginal lobby; Howard has consistently and vehemently denied what he so eloquently termed the ‘Black armband’ view of Australian history and so it is inevitable that those who know that his sobriquet was earned in irony will be fair rolling in the aisles, but the questions they raise are valid. ‘Why now?’ they ask, and ‘What now?’

So, ‘Why now?’ indeed. Elroy is happy enough that Johnny is superficially tottering in the right direction, and Elroy has come up with a quick lucky seven reasons as to why the Honourable may have done so.

1. ‘Look! Over there!’

The first thing that comes to mind is that such a massive dereliction of principle provides a great distraction from the opinion polls that have him languishing somewhere down around the levels of a post-war Hitler or, even worse, a current war George Bush; this magnificent volte-face was perfectly timed to suck up all the available media oxygen and make it all about HIM come his big announcement last Sunday.

2. ‘Shut up! Listen to me! I’m the Prime Minister!...’

Secondly, it put him thoroughly in charge of the agenda. Honest John has been looking more and more like the opposition lately, reacting to whatever bit of socialist madness the Labor Party have proposed or defending themselves against said commie’s scurrilous attacks, but not actually proposing much apart from a promise to dismember federation. However, with this jaw-dropping paean to all things indigenous, Little Johnny is looking decidedly statesmanlike. At last.

3. ‘…but I do have a sensitive side.’

The third reason is that, as his iron vice of a grip starts to weaken and the Liberal Party get a bit bolshy, Honest John recognised the need to lob some meat to the Party’s wet wing and its more swingin’ voters, the infamous doctors’ wives and their ilk who periodically fret about the bootless and unhorsed after lunch with the gals.

This bunch, the teeny ‘l’ faction, have been bulldozed into silence by the marauding economic irrationalists that have held the party hostage since Howard found a copy of Milton Freidman’s Capitalism And Freedom down the back of the couch, but now that the Labor Party have swung so far right that they make Menzies look more like Mao, Howie has had to make a magnificently empty gesture in order to make them think that he ‘cares’ and stop them taking that oh-so-short but significant trip to the dark side and voting for that ‘Nice’ Mr Rudd.

4. ‘See? I do care!’

This pronouncement helps deflect adverse criticism of his indigenous ‘Intervention’ program that has eradicated what small gains aboriginal people have made over the years and subjected them to an unholy panoply of unwarranted sanctions and hoops that the rest of society are not required to jump through. The intervention is apparently all for their own good, if only they would realise it, and it is obvious that Howard only has their best interests at heart because he is going to add them to the constitution, dammit!

5. ‘Nothing in my hands…nothing up my sleeve…presto chango…!’

The beauty of this audacious flip-flop is that it isn’t really one at all; it’s an illusion, a trick, a sleight of hand – the biggest sticking point for the Wee One has been the dreaded ‘sorry’ word and he has no intention of uttering it, but he’s trying to make it look as if he will.

On the Thursday he said ‘I recognise the parlous position of indigenous Australians does have its roots in history and that past injustices have a real legacy in the present’ but he also said ‘I still believe that a collective national apology for past injustice fails to provide the necessary basis to move forward’, which just goes to show how grudging and ultimately vapid his declaration is.

In making this symbolic nod to symbolism he can look like he is doing something while not actually doing much at all which is, ironically, what he has been grizzling about all these years. ‘I said a couple of years ago that part of my problem with the old reconciliation agenda was that it let too many people - particularly in white Australia - off the hook’ he intoned. ‘It let them imagine they could achieve something lasting and profound through symbolic gesture alone, without grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery.’

Which appears to be exactly what he is doing. If you are in any doubt about the down side of the intervention then you obviously haven’t read It’s A Black Thing, available here, which documents just how devastating it is, but Howard is hoping that the electorate is just going to take his word for it that the intervention is a you-beaut, final solution method of grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery and that, with his new little cherry on top, the problem will be forever solved.

John Howard is correct when he says that white Australia will be let of the hook, that they can imagine they can achieve something lasting and profound through symbolic gesture alone, without grappling in a serious, sustained way with the real practical dimensions of indigenous misery, because he’s the one doing the gesturing. Aboriginal people have never been in any doubt that reconciliation will require both symbolic and practical approaches, but Honest John is not interested in real reconciliation and never has been – his offer of a referendum to add a preamble recognizing the prior ownership of the land is as useless as his current, er, robust approach to aboriginal affairs.

The one symbolic gesture that aboriginal people actually want, an official ‘sorry’, will ‘only reinforce a culture of victimhood and take us backwards’ according to Howard, which is ironic because that is precisely what the intervention is currently doing. However, what his symbolic gesture is meant to represent is not entirely clear.

The Liberals and their fellow conservative nutbags are constantly reminding us about the importance of the Judeo-Christian moral code, the rule of law and how free lunches will never be a reality for those outside Parliament House, but what they fail to understand is the importance of themselves obeying said moral code, that an important foundation of the aforementioned rule of law is that the fear of retribution does not justify the denial of criminality and that colonialism, whitey’s overlong and really free lunch, did have a price and is still not entirely paid for.

‘Thou shalt not kill’, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, ‘Love your enemies’, ‘Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me’ – all of these are in Volumes one and two of the Bible’s Greatest Hits, yet when it comes to indigenous affairs they are conspicuous only by their absence. The original inhabitants of Australia have been classed as fauna, shot at, imprisoned, disenfranchised and evicted, robbed, brainwashed and denied their basic human rights for over two hundred years, so it seems like the Judeo-Christian moral code can only applied so far and only when the suits those that trumpet its superiority.

With regards to the rule of law, the powers that be are adamant that it be revered at all times and that its word is final. The High Court is the ultimate arbiter of what is constitutionally correct unless, of course, you are John Howard, in which case you can take any old High Court decision that happens to displease you and legislate it away, particularly if it pertains to aborigines.

That’s what he did with the Wik decision, continuing a long tradition of ignoring the rule of law when it is convenient. From the first fleet onward, various treaties have been broken and legal judgments ignored as the English, their descendants, and whoever else happened to wander over more or less helped themselves.

Murderers and others that flaunt the law are called to account (CEOs and senior politicians excepted); they are not let go because they don’t feel like pleading guilty or don’t think they should, so why should the government be any different? The Liberals claim saying sorry is ‘divisive’, ‘offensive’ and ‘hectoring’ because the current crop of whiteys were not the ones firing the guns, poisoning the flour and stealing the children while at the same time, but just as the representatives of the Swiss Banks that kept the savings of the German Jewry after World War Two were not the hands that signed the passbooks, the banks were still judged to have benefited and ordered to pay restitution. Where is the difference?

Australia has been chowing down on a free lunch that has lasted over 200 years. We are told that the current crop of whiteys enjoying the spoils of oppression may fear that saying sorry will open the floodgates for compensation claims, but the end game of Empire is still being played out where ever the sun never set, from New Zealand to Zimbabwe to Australia to Old Blighty herself, and as long as long as the feeding frenzy continues then the descendents of the oppressed have a legitimate claim against them.

If ‘sorry’ is as uselessly symbolic as the Honest John would have us believe, then why not say it? On the other hand, if ‘sorry’ opens the Commonwealth up to compensation, surely that should be admitted and dealt with in a way which respects the aforementioned Judeo-Christian moral code and rule of law? How can the government duck the long arm of the law and still be regarded as legitimate?

Everybody knows that the indigenous people were treated inhumanly, so to bring the healing of this weeping wound down to a base and vulgar question of mammon is wholly immoral at best and at worst greedy and slothful, not to mention a certain amount of pride, wrath and, to push the boat out somewhat, jealousy, gluttony and lust, but distinctly lacking in the cardinal virtues of faith, hope, charity, prudence, moderation, religion and fortitude. Well done, guys! Not bad going for a Christian nation!

Howard is now taking charge, saying OK, this far but no further, but again he doesn’t get it. He wants to own the issue by defining what he is willing to do, an arrogance which is not lost on aboriginal Australia, but he has so failed to explain why his symbolism is appropriate but another is not, but his offer is merely style over substance, form over content, all froth and no bubble – all tip, to quote Keating, and no iceberg.

To quote Malcolm Fraser, a man who must accept some responsibility for creating the horror show we know as Honest John Howard, the changes to the constitution would be ‘totally meaningless’ until we are told exactly what the changes are to be and, more importantly ‘It means nothing without a 20-year commitment to Aboriginal health, education, housing and also a commitment that will enable Aboriginals to cherish and preserve their own culture’ and that, funnily enough, is strangely missing from Howard’s treaty.

6. ‘Oooh! There’s a bear in there…’

Enough of fifth. Sixth, it is a classic wedge issue. Howard is trying to force Rudd into saying that he WILL say sorry so that Howard can scare the punters with lurid tales of the compensation claims and other racist fear mongering as outlined above (5).

7. ‘Hang on! I’m not quite finished yet! I’ve just got to…’

The last reason is that Howard has an eye to history and his place in it – when the truth of his 11 years of all-out war against Aborigines in general and the Intervention in particular are revealed in their full barbarity Howard will not be regarded too fondly, hence his current sop. He is going against his own advise and trying desperately to stuff a hog with whatever bon-bons and cream he can find prior to its sale, but it’s too late; so many chances to have done the right thing, the right practical thing and the right symbolic thing, have now whistled past his ear and into the garbage compactor of history where he has no hope of dictating what they will be recycled into.

He says this the ‘unfinished business of the nation’, but more importantly for Howard it is the unfinished business of his reign. He knows the jig is up and that history is going to judge him badly on the indigenous issue, particularly after the ‘intervention’ farrago, and so at five to twelve he suddenly slaps his forehead and says ‘Doh! The Abos! Gotta remember – do something about the flaming Abos!’ The word ‘cynical’ does not seem out of place, or even adequate.

But as much as he may admit that this journey to his micro-epiphany has taken in its fair share of ‘sidetracks and dry gullies’, the leader of the party which stresses personal responsibility above all else would like us to know that it is not his fault. No, society is to blame, society and Johnny’s poor old mum and dad. ‘The challenge I have faced around indigenous identity politics’ he lamented to an audience of like-minded stooges, ‘is in part an artefact of who I am and the time in which I grew up.’

The fact that many millions of others that grew up at the same time vehemently disagree with him doesn’t seem to register, so the problem for Johnny is obviously genetic as well as environmental, a subtle blend of nature and nurture against which he is so defenceless.

Far be it from the Little Man to challenge the status quo and orthodox thinking – if it was said to be true then it was true, and much as he might now claim to be challenging the dominant paradigm, all that has happened is that he has found a successor to the conservative values of Faith Bandler and Neville Bonner to legitimise his ureconstructed, old school assimilationism in the shape of Noel Pearson.

Pearson is the kind of Blackfella that Howard loves – a clever gentleman that rose from the stolen generation to become a spokesman for ‘his people’ who rails against welfare dependency and props up other conservative canards. It doesn’t matter that 90% of the other aboriginal leaders are opposed to his views, or that ‘his people’ are not the greater mass of aborigines as imagined by white society but a small group on the York Peninsula in far north Queensland who are quite culturally separate from the people of the Central Desert; what matters that Pearson is an aborigine whose views allow Howard to take the question of indigenous identity politics back to the comfy 1950s where the only blackfella he was likely to see was brandishing a spear on his authentic pokerwork Alice Springs souvenir pipe and slipper rack.

So what happens next? The signs were encouraging, but the day after his bunker-buster Howard held a somewhat qualifying press conference where he denied that it was an election sell out but added ‘I don't believe Labor could unite conservative and progressive Australia on this issue’.

It this kind of veiled threat that makes Howard look so slippery and lacking conviction, as mean and tricky as even his own party have painted him. Does this mean that he would actively fight against the position if he doesn’t get the guernsey? Does it mean that conservatives are such convictionless drips that they would only support reconciliation when their Dear Leader tells them to?

So, Honest John Howard in person and the intervention in general promised aboriginal people both symbolic and practical help but if, God forbid, he somehow manages to crawl back into Kirribilli House, what they will get is the final nail in the creaking coffin of reconciliation with the most meaningless paean the Government could muster in the shape of a couple of lines in an unread preamble to an unread Constitution, a worthless and grudging nod toward their ‘prior stewardship’ or some similar prolix prose, and a short, sharp asset-stripping exercise to finally wipe out what is left of their culture and drive them into the towns and cities in line with Howard’s assimilation agenda.

But if Honest John is sent to CentreLink, will he follow his new-found path and still push for some sort of reconciliation by putting the wedge back in the political tool drawer and bringing conservative Australia with him in bipartisan recognition of That Nice Mr Rudd’s ‘mandate’, finally admit the country is as divided as it was since Captain Cook unpacked his first picnic and attempt to rehabilitate his legacy by eventually, belatedly, at least allowing someone to utter the hardest word?

Or will he take his bat and ball home to XXXX after having used them to smash any attempts by TNMR to say it while perpetuating the conceit that Australia is ‘One tribe’? Time will tell, although there is growing evidence that, after 80,000 odd years, time for indigenous Australia is finally running out.

Australia has been at least two tribes – the colonisers and the aborigines – since 1776, and the only real attempt by the former to make us ‘one tribe’ has been by exterminating the latter. Elroy’s old daddy, Elroy Snr, Elroy the Wiser, Elroy the All-seeing and all-knowing, Elroy the Kind, Wonderful and Generous, always says ‘Trust only movement’, and Howard’s intervention policy is the practical proof, the concrete evidence that Howard knows this ‘One tribe’ malarkey with its ominous overtones of One Nation is so far from the truth to be somewhat laughable but not so far that it cannot be achieved.

The awful truth of John Howard’s relationship with indigenous Australia is that reconciliation is not the unfinished business of the nation – for the conservative elite, the true unfinished business of the nation is the ultimate destruction of black Australia as it disappears into the towering ghettos of inner city disadvantage and cheap houses of the outer suburban sprawl. Howard’s ‘One tribe’ is a project, a work in progress that will see the indigenous people subsumed, assimilated and no longer able to stake their claim; it will mean that blacks are the new whites and the genocide is finally complete.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dear John...

Dear John

We are not for sale. Unlike you, we know both the price and the value of everything. Money, it may come as a suprise to know, is not the be all and end all of our existance.

We don’t want tax cuts – we want services. We don’t an extra sandwich – we want schools and hospitals. We don’t want lower top marginal tax rates – we want higher top marginal tax rates. We want you to take your $34 billion of tax cuts and shove ‘em – shove ‘em into health, education, housing and alternative energy sources that don’t include coal or uranium.

We are embarrassed that we have homeless people, working poor, jails full of people whose only crime is to have a mental illness, people who can’t get a bed in a hospital ward, hospital wards full of old people who can’t get a bed in a nursing home and nursing homes full of young people who can’t get a bed anywhere.

We are sick of kids going to schools that can’t afford books next schools with books that the kids can’t afford. We are tired of paying off everyone else’s mortgage. We are sick of not being able to afford our own mortgage. We are over having to pay logging companies to destroy our forests.

We cannot pool our extra $15pw with our neighbours and build a hospital, or a school, or a nursing home –that's your job. Infrastructure. Economies of scale. Look them up.

We are over being lied to, we are over a government that is in the pocket of big business and we are over having to be at war with our fellow man to get ahead.

We are, frankly, over you, Mr Howard. And we’ll probably be over Mr Rudd in a year or two, but he’ll do for now as he is not, thankfully, you.

Bob Brown For President!



Thursday, October 11, 2007

So if not...then what?

Let’s Ask Elroy!™ has received a message from some old codger in Syd-en-neee concerning Elroy's last post, 'Oils Ain't Oils' that reads...

‘Well done…Nice poetry…making a very good point’ which we reply ‘Ta!’ while insolently peering at our fingernails. However, it goes on to ask:

‘On the other hand what do we use if we don’t use Ethanol? Are you going to give up your car?’ which we reply ‘Yay! Someone asked Elroy!’.

And a fair enough question; after all, it’s typical of lefty, tree-hugging, vege-munching, Osama-lovin’ freedom loathin’, commie-fuckin’ enviro-nazis to whine endlessly about everything that might not sit 110% with their precious, overblown, sanctimonious sensibilities without ever offering a solution, so here at Let’s Ask Elroy!™ we feel honour bound to break the mould and say that yes, there might be a way around it and that no, I will not have to give up pedaling my car.

It’s not ethanol per se which is the problem, more like what the ethanol is made from. Let Elroy take you somewhere, to an alternative planet where there is a magic plant that can produce four mature crops a year literally anywhere with far more material per acre per crop, which means far more methanol than we can squeeze out the highly subsidized crop of choice for ethanol production – corn.

Unlike corn, this stuff requires little water, less attention and no fertilizers, it produces less Co2 and is far more efficient than methanol made from other substances; it can be grown in rotation with corn and soy and so need not compete outright with it and, furthermore, it can not only be grown on marginal and degraded land that could not support a corn crop but it can also actually rehabilitate that land!

And as a food source it is somewhat miraculous. Its seeds are very high in protein and mineral, are not only low in cholesterol they lower cholesterol, its oil has the most perfect natural balance of essential fatty acids and the second highest level of Omega 3. It also has many medical applications, from pain relief to glaucoma to ameliorating the nauseating side effects of chemotherapy.

And while we’re at it we might as well mention the other things it can do, like make biodegradable plastics, replace timber building materials, make high grade paper, fabrics, and just about anything else you can name in a sustainable manner.

It’s the best proof yet of the existence of God and the best proof yet that mankind is so unbelievably venal, hubristic, proud, vain, judgmental, blind, deaf and stupid that is willing to kill the planet they live on while they kill themselves. Elroy admits that this plant is not going to save the world all on it own, but it would truly help the problems by reducing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, hunger and poverty and the world’s reliance on chemicals and fossil fuels.

What a shame we don’t have it on this planet. And Elroy knows what you are thinking – if this plant exists on another planet, how does Elroy know about it? And how does he suggest we get it? Well, the planet that this miraculous bush lives on is called Planet Tolerant but unfortunately we live on Planet Prohibition, so we will probably have to wait until we are all half-dead from whatever before we realize that forbidding the cultivation of hemp was such a good idea.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oils Ain't Oils

True to his word Elroy has posted twice in a week, and true to his threat he has done it in rhyme. If bad poetry is your love, go no further! However, if this just sets your teeth on edge just a tad too much then Let's Ask Elroy™ to stop immediately.

OK then, here goes. Harruuum. La-deeeez...and...genulmun! I Give youse...


Planet Earth has been bled dry
The oil is nearly through
Many wells
Are empty shells
So now what do we do?

Let’s all go fuck up the world
Fighting for what’s left
Crushing those
That dare oppose
And leaving them bereft

China wants the Russian slicks
But then, so does Japan
The Yanks attack
Saddam’s I-raq
And ‘liberate’ Iran

Kazakhstan is in the sights
Of Exxon, Shell and Fina
But other voices
Offer choices
That will make us greener

‘Fossil fuels are bad! They say,
They’re melting all the ice!
And people choke
On all the smoke!
It isn’t very nice!

We know there is another way
To make our engines go
Who needs a Sheik
When we can make
Our fuel from what we grow?’

It doesn’t fill the air with smog
It’s so clean when it burns
And unlike crude
It gets renewed –
Each season it returns!’

So what could be the problem?
Let’s plant it right away!
It’s going to charm
Those on the farm
With pay instead of hay!

Making all the fuel we need
Corn and soy and wheat
By the ton
Will mean there’s none
Left for us to eat

But we can grow our foodstuffs
In other peoples’ fields
In lieu of debt
We can jet
All a country yields

Back to where we’re living
And eat it all ourselves
And we won’t share
So people stare
At rows of empty shelves

And when those third world countries
Have all been dispossessed
Of all their land
They’ll all be banned
From moving to the west

Does Ethanol burn cleaner?
It’s dirty stuff to make
It tends to spew
And chaos in its wake

It takes more energy to make
A gallon of this goo
Than it releases
But it greases
Palms of you-know-who

Coporate vested interests
That stand to rake in stacks
Of subsidies
If you please
Paid for with your tax

To grow the fuel we cut down trees
And burn them then and there
And all the gas
Within their mass
Is sent into the air

And all the Co2 that forests
Normally absorb
Now just flies
Around the skies
Of our blue/green orb

Melting all the glaciers
Filling up the seas
Making more
People poor
To fuel our SUVs

We’re being told we’re helping while
The planet slowly boils
Which goes to show
What we should know
That they know oils ain’t oils


Monday, October 1, 2007

Dolly Downer's Democratic Dilemma

There is to be a change in editorial policy at Let’s Ask Elroy!™ In an attempt to remain vaguely relevant and be in the now we shall present more thoughts more often, heaving the ‘Webessay’ format overboard for the time being and becoming snappily tabloidesque although no less opinionated. Expect Elroy to report at least, and he means at least three times a week! Can he do it? The stakes are high...

The longer polemic/rant/screed/diatribe/ may turn up from time to time, but on the whole you’d better stick Let’s Ask Elroy on your bookmark bar and check in daily – who knows what he might hold forth on. So make it part of your breakfast experience, and once again thank you for being part of the exclusive family that is Let’s Ask Elroy!™ That is all.

(Having said that, the following is waaaay too long and a complete abrogation of the new editorial guidelines. Elroy has severely chastised the minion responsible but, as the staff are a bunch of wild and crazy kids who live for the now, don't expect it not to happen again.)

Dolly Downer's Democratic Dilemma

As the footy winds up, the sport of would-be kings is about to lurch out of the home-and-away season and kick into finals mode! Yes, the unelection campaign is nearly over and the quest for the keys to Kirribilli is about to hit high gear, and as it does the Liberal Government’s elite come out fighting in the ultimate festival of the boot, no matter how ridiculous they may sound and look, which leads us to Australian Foreign Minister Alexander ‘Dolly’ Downer and his peculiar notions of democracy.

The government, particularly this one, is very attached to the tri-yearly ballot-box farrago as it means that for the most part they can get on with doing whatever they want to do regardless of whether or not there is any kind of ‘mandate’ for it. The Westminster system of Representative Democracy gives politicians carte blanche to break every pledge they used to get elected in the first place – see Honest John Howard’s infamous 'core' and ‘non-core’ promises – they are unaccountable for around 36 months at a stretch, plenty of time to cause all kinds of damage as they plough the ship of state full steam ahead into iceberg after bloody iceberg.

So it’s no great stretch to see why Westminster-style Representative Democracy is touted by government as the be-all and end-all of societal organization, and although there are often exceptions that let the cat out pf the bag – former Liberal Party candidate and all-round political fruit-loop Pauline Hanson described it as ‘Mob rule’ – it’s not often that Liberal front men, those that are actively prosecuting a war supposedly based on spreading democracy around the Middle East like so much Vegemite, get all muddled about their product.

But Dolly Downer was so keen to deliver a hefty kick at Saint Kevin and his Laboring disciples he wound up sticking the boot into poor old democracy herself and unwittingly promoting an alternative system of government that Elroy thinks sounds far closer to how a society should be constructed. Yes, the truth is that Dolly, the bluest of bloods, knows that representative democracy is a dud for anyone but the ruling classes, and showed his disdain quite clearly On ABC television’s Lateline show last Tuesday.

While defending the fact that, because Australia did not ratify the Koyoto Protocol, we will have no vote at the upcoming Bali climate change conference, Dolly said

‘It's not like some Labor Party branch meeting, you know, all in favour of socialism and 35 put up their hands, all against two put up their hands, OK socialism's adopted. It doesn't work like that.’

Really, Dolly? Y’see, that’s the way it works for the punters back home. In general elections, the House of Representatives and the Senate – the ayes have it! So how does it work when nation states are the electorates?

‘What you do is you sit around in groups, have bilateral meetings, have plenary meetings and you negotiate the type of arrangement that we put in place and hopefully in the end there will be something of a consensus on what kind of an arrangement is put in place.’

Wow! Did you hear that? Let’s parse a-while!

‘What you do is you sit around in groups…’

Mmm. That sounds encouraging. Smaller arrangements of interested parties getting down to the nitty-gritty instead of everyone yelling at each other all together, kind of like having smaller class sizes in schools as opposed to trying to teach the entire school body in the one dining hall. And we all like smaller class sizes, right? So far so good, Dolly – what’s next?

‘…have bilateral meetings, have plenary meetings…’

OK, for us mortals, well, we know what ‘bilateral’ means (my trusty ol’ Oxford defines it as ‘Adjective: 1. Having two sides. 2. Involving two parties), but ‘plenary’? ‘1. Unqualified; absolute. 2. (Of a meeting at a conference or assembly) to be attended by all participants. Thanks for that Word Of The Day, Dolly – and now we know what it actually means!

Ok, so we have all interested parties involved, both or even every side of the argument sits down and no bunking off! No playing hookey! Not like the current situation in the House of Representatives, where most of the members are somewhere else polishing off another crate of Grange, no! Plenary! Everybody must attend! Absolute! No exceptions! And…

‘…and you negotiate the type of arrangement that we put in place and hopefully in the end there will be something of a consensus on what kind of an arrangement is put in place.’

So, a plan is developed through a process of consultation and conciliation by all stakeholders in the hope of finding consensus with the wider body. Terrific! Maybe Dolly is OK after all!

But I know what you’re asking: What else did he say? This visionary, this champion of the people, this democratic revolutionary, did he have more pearls of wisdom to impart? I mean, what is wrong with the obviously crude and distinctly primitive ‘democracy’ that he and is kind insists be adopted around the world? Hmm, Dolly?

‘After all, if you just have a vote and some countries vote against a particular proposition, you can't force those countries that have voted against a proposition to embrace it. It doesn't work like that.’

But again, that's the way it works for us. It works like that here. The constituencies that vote against a motion or a piece of legislation don’t get to reject it; we still have WorkChoices here in Melbourne Ports, no matter how our local member may have voted. So how does it work there?

‘What happens is that, and what should happen, is that there is an effort to put together an international agreement and that is what's in the best interests of the world.’

That is what should happen! Damn straight!

‘When you were talking at the beginning about the importance of this meeting, it's not going to be much of a meeting if it's conducted like some sort of Labor Party branch meeting.’

Maybe we should once again remind the Honourable Member for Mayo that meetings ‘conducted like some sort of Labor Party branch meeting’ are eerily similar to those held by that other rabble, the Australian Federal Government’s House of Representatives, and has even been known to have tried by the Liberal Party themselves! Fancy! Does Dolly know?

Is there any reason that Australia doesn’t organize it’s affairs this way? That we don’t have, say, an arrangement whereby all the political representatives of an electorate could have bilateral and plenary meetings to negotiate agreements so that delegates could reach a consensus? And that those that do agree with those agreements are not bound by them?

This would eradicate the kind of politics we have now where approximately 50% of the electorate are saddled with policies that they are vehemently opposed to, where one party is free to indulge in ideological excess and free to govern for the benefit of the vested interests that put them there.

The sky’s the limit! Using Dolly’s preferred formula, that vintage, nay, veteran democratic vehicle we all lumber along could be restored and renovated, hot-rodded for the new millennium! That old bus is hundreds of years old! It’s a steam-powered, string-driven, two-wheeled, us-or-them, black-or-white thingamajig that could really do with some radical revamping! It’s the 21st Century, man – let’s build a democratic process that provides a voice for everyone!

There is no shortage of ideas on what to do instead – ‘voting theory' is a branch of political science that has been actively discussed since the 18th Century and democracy comes in many forms – but if the international community has found a better way, why not us? Why, Dolly, can’t we mere mortals organize our affairs like you and your diplomatic chums?

‘It's got to be conducted in a sophisticated way by sophisticated people addressing a truly important issue.

And we are what, Dolly?

So can we look forward to some radical interpretations of democratic theory from Alexander ‘Dolly’ Dower during the election campaign? Can we expect him to agitate for change so that the interests of the great unwashed of Goddamorgidge ride in a style suitable for the upper echelons of the ruling classes? Or will they yet again get to lollop along in the venerable old ‘bus that’s wheeled out every three years to such fanfare and mock delight?

Elroy's going with the bus, because Dolly Downer's democratic dilemma is that although he knows full well that bus is broken, he also knows that because his grip on the reins of power depend on it he must keep telling us that it is fully operational and all of its circuits are functioning perfectly. He tells us one thing while believing another, and if that isn't lying then it is at the least a dereliction of principles, and is that what we want from our elected leaders? Elroy's thinking 'No'.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

It's A Black Thing.

The Australian Federal Government's response to the child abuse scandals in indigenous communities is heavy handed and lacks the very element crucial to it's success - consulation. Unfortunately, this is a message Prime Minister John Howard does not, or will not, understand.

The indigenous people of Australia are a long-suffering mob. Since 1788 thy have been systematically murdered and robbed, dispossessed and treated as second if not third rate citizens. Years of neglect by successive Federal Governments, particularly the current one who refused point blank to seize the day and apologize in the spirit of reconciliation, has resulted in a breakdown of aboriginal health, education and housing, and the horror of rampant child abuse, alcoholism, and domestic violence.

The Little Children Are Sacred, a report prepared by indigenous health expert Pat Anderson and QC Rex Wild, highlighted the wretchedness of the situation and offered ninety-seven recommendations for how it could and should be rectified. To the authors’ great surprise, the Howard Federal Government leapt into action and John Howard, ignoring his great hero Ronald Reagan’s famous edict ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”’ and announced that he is from the government and he is here to help.

The last time indigenous children were ostensibly ‘saved’ by Federal Government intervention it turned out to be all part of a concerted effort to ‘breed out the black’ so no wonder the indigenous population is a tad nervous, but suddenly the condition of aborigines became first priority for Honest John Howard.

However, in classic conservative style, Howard ignored all ninety-seven of the bleeding hearts’ ‘expert’ proposals, much to the disappointment of Anderson and Wild. ‘Let me say’ said Anderson, ‘there is not a single action that the commonwealth has taken so far that corresponds with a single recommendation…there is no relationship between this emergency protection and what's in our report.’

Anyway, Howard has declared the whole thing a ‘national emergency’ and come up with his own somewhat more ‘practical’ remedies, like ‘restoring law and order’; He obviously thought that Pat and Rex were missing out on a perfectly good opportunity to do a little shock and awe, and literally sent in the cavalry. ‘We argue’ sniffed the PM, “that our intervention plan is the way to respond’.

Anderson, however, is less than impressed; ‘When we turned the TV on and saw the troops roll into the Northern Territory’ said Ms Anderson, ‘we were just sort of devastated to think that that could happen, so we feel sort of betrayed and disappointed, hurt and angry and pretty pissed off all at the same time.’

And neither is Rex wild about Howard’s way. ‘We arranged meetings, we told people about them’ explained Rex, ‘that we were coming and why we were coming. ‘We arrived quietly with courtesy and politeness’ said Wild, ‘We didn't arrive unannounced in helicopters, we didn't arrive in gunships, we didn't arrive in tanks or trucks’

Contrary to the Liberal’s core belief of an individual’s right to choose Howard’s fix is a one size fits all, take it or, er, take it proposition. Communities with absolutely no record of child abuse, or that have controlled their alcoholism, are being targeted as if they are as dysfunctional as the worst of them and they are rightfully horrified at being stigmatized as child molesters. They are being treated with the sort of one-you-has-ruined-it-for-everybody routine that would be more at home in a kindergarten; it is patronizing, paternalist, racist and should be stopped. However, this is John Howard we’re talking about…

Anyhoo, there are seven main planks that the blackfellas will have to walk, seven main aims which are:

1) To perform compulsory health checks.

2) To ‘quarantine’ dole payments so that parents feed their children properly and get them to school.

3) To boost employment opportunities for aborigines.

4) To outlaw X-rated porn

5) To outlaw alcohol.

6) To lease aboriginal lands.

7) To abolish the entry permit system.

Many argue that Howard’s plan is racist in that is inflicting draconian measures on only one section of the community based on the colour of their skin and/or cultural practices; Howard’s scheme is discriminatory and therefore, QED, racist. It is pointed out that child abuse is pretty rife in the wider white community too, as is drinking and wanking to X-rated video nasties, but no one has mentioned that the rest of us must also be subjected to these same sanctions.

And this perception hasn’t been helped by the president of the Northern Territory AMA, who wrote a letter to Health Minister Tony Abbott stating that as Aborigines do not have ‘processes, accountability or any form of formal management structure in their culture’ then ‘Caucasians…need to exert some mild dictatorship into the management of aboriginal healthcare’. The ‘major error’, he opines, ‘started from the time self-determination was returned to the Aboriginal people some 40 years ago’.

Golly! Imagine! Returning self-determination! Why did we ever get rid of those nice missionaries! That’s the thing about dealing with fuzzy-wuzzies – you’ve got to show them who’s boss! Oh, why can’t they just be more like us!
The good doctor then compounded his stupidity by entering into a certain amount subterfuge about the use of the dreaded ‘D’ word; ‘neither you nor I’, he whispered, ‘must ever use this word publicly’ but worryingly, now that it is out in the open, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Local good ol’ boy Dave Tollner, Country Liberal Party member of the house of representatives, didn’t have much a problem with it – he was actually CC’ed a copy – and worst of all, neither does Mal Brough, the hapless bastard of a Minister who has to implement Howard’s little land grab; he says that Beaumont was ‘frustrated’, and the AMA are quite happy too. ‘Peter’, sniffed AMA national president Rosanna Capolingua draws us to the attention of many issues’ – like he’s a complete and utter fucking racist – ‘and I am very proud that he continues to want to represent the AMA.’ Oh. So that’s all right then.

The trouble is with Howard solution, or solutions, is they’re all madness, and every one of Howard’s answers will result in the exact opposite of what is purportedly trying to achieve. Let’s take a peek.

1) Performing compulsory health checks.

It turns out the compulsory health checks would constitute assault, so it’s back to the drawing board with that one.

2) Quarantining dole payments.

This one has hit some rocks along the road. The government swears that the greater community will be also exposed to this privation, although there are no details available no how this will be accomplished nor how taking money away from people will improve their diets.

However, for aborigines to eat properly they might need something proper to eat. Decent fresh food is not simply not available in the remote communities Howard is trying to target, and when it is it’s wildly expensive, so how anyone is supposed to buy it when their income has been halved is beyond me.

Furthermore, although the getting the kiddies into school is a laudable enough concept, the schools on many, if not most, of these communities are incapable of physically fitting them all in, let alone seating them, let alone finding someone to teach them. Or maybe we should take up Noel Pearson’s idea and send them all of those black kids to the leafy city suburbs’ elite boarding schools.

3) Boosting employment opportunities.

It is a constant grumble of the migrant community (the rest of Australia) that indigenous Australians should get with the program and BE LIKE US! Why they should be like us no one can really say – it’s not as if they asked for our culture to be imposed upon them, or begged to be poisoned and shot, or pleaded to be rounded up and imprisoned on missions and settlements, or demanded that they not be counted on the census, or requested that their tribes, clans and culture be deliberately mixed up and obliterated – but no matter! Mal to the rescue!

The current concern is that if aborigines don’t work they become ‘welfare dependent’ but it may come to a surprise to white Australia but the indigenous folk agree. ‘Aboriginal people are worried about their kids’ said Anderson, ‘but they want to be part of the solution not merely to be passive recipients. The days of being passive recipients are over, absolutely over. That isn't going to work, that hasn't worked.’

That indigenous Australians should get a job has been an article of faith for the invaders since 1789, and in 1977 the highly successful Community Development Program (CDEP) was introduced to help communities by employing their inhabitants for twenty hours a week and paying them for it. Not much, a little more than the dole, but with the various extra payments available to those involved in viable operations, the 35,000 people on the CDEP were able to carve a living and not be part of the unemployment statistics.

The CDEP is working; communities have locally run stores, garages, all manner of things going on that employ something like 35,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders across the country, empowering those who volunteer to be involved and providing a gateway to employment outside of the scheme.

As a result, people are making financial commitments and breaking out of the ‘welfare dependency’ trap that conservatives wail about from dawn ‘til dusk. Who knows? If the blackfellas keep this up they might even make Howard’s wettest dream come true and start getting mortgages! They’re becoming…more like us!

So Mal is ramping up this proven success in order to achieve the government’s objective forging an independent and self-motivated indigenous population that will flourish in the face of the 21st Century’s harsh realities, yes?

Er, no. In fact, the government is so hell-bent on punishment as a way looking tough for the edification of the white electorate that, when they were told that ‘quarantining’ the money earned CDEP participants was actually illegal because it is not ‘welfare’ as such, well, Brough just took the 8,000 CDEP employees in the Northern Territory sacked ‘em and stuck ‘em on the dole!

Now that is one progressive policy! Now they are all on Newstart, instead of being allowed to earn money they are being penalized for it as deductions from the Newstart allowance begin after twenty bucks a week has been earned. This means that loans will be defaulted on, money will be a whole lot tighter, people will be angry, let down, depressed, and who will bear the brunt of this? The kids and their mothers, the very people the ‘strategy’ is supposed to help. Welcome to compassionate conservatism, Aussie style! Way to end welfare dependency!

4) Outlawing X-rated porn

The X-rated material is either illegal anyway, having been distributed by illicit traders in the Northern Territory, and as a result is far more graphic and violent than the legal, classified variety, but such is the price of prohibition, or is beamed in via the Austar satellite Pay TV service.
With regards to the first component of the porn problem, all good capitalists know that a demand will result in a supply, that is, if people want porn they will get it, so if classified porn is easily available it will reduce the supply of unclassified porn. Contain and control (More on this coming up on Let’s Ask Elroy!™ real soon!).

The second bit may be trickier. The Austar satellite has two adult channels and Elroy is looking forward to seeing John Howard go in to bat for the future of indigenous kiddies with Austar’s majority shareholder, the quietly achieving media magnate billionaire John C. Malone, a man known in the cable industry, due to his understanding nature, as Darth Vader, as Elroy knows that Howard loves nothing better than showing media magnate billionaires who’s boss.

5) Outlawing alcohol.

The alcohol ban is way stickier. The vast majority of NT communities are dry already, due in the main to agitation from indigenous women, except for the drinking permits granted to white teachers, policemen etc that may work there. This system does rankle deeply with many indigenous denizens of said communities as it is, quite obviously, racist, so the question is whether the Feds are going to stop that practice as well?

But if the communities are for the most part dry, how does the grog get there? From the big towns, roadhouses, corner shops and petrol stations, but the chances of them being subject to the kind of draconian regulation that would be required is negligible – indeed, the liquor outlets have fought tooth and nail against any restriction to their trade, no matter what effect on the local population, and not without some success.

So here’s Mal’s latest genius idea: allow, nay, FORCE the hitherto dry communities to open ‘wet’ canteens! That’s right! The Liberal/National coalition’s brilliant scheme to eradicate drinking in the communities is to, er, introduce drinking to the communities.

Now, Elroy is no fan of prohibition (more on that in an upcoming Let’s Ask Elroy!™ special investigation), but if a population of a community is overwhelmingly in favour of it, then who is anyone to argue? The point is, many communities have discovered that the ready availability of alcohol has been a disaster, and so have tried hard to stop it, and it is those initiatives that the Government is intent on overturning.

This is a complicated issue, and Elroy is treading a very thin wire to avoid quite valid accusations of hypocrisy. In most cases, but by no means all, Elroy holds that prohibition does not work, and in indigenous communities this is still true – those that really want alcohol will get it – but the difference is that communities choose an alcohol ban for themselves instead of having it imposed upon them.

There is, of course, another angle as to why communities desperate to stay dry must become wet. The trouble is that aborigines that want to drink have the nerve to come into town to do it! In a pub! Well, as that’s just plain not nice for the tourists, white chambers of commerce across the NT have been trying for years to keep them darkies on the missions and settlements and out of the towns, and they think the ‘wet canteen’ would be a perfect solution. The white pub owners would be perfectly happy to ferry the grog out there, at a price, cleaning up the streets and the dole cheques while they’re at it, so when you read that Howard wants to institute ‘new alcohol restrictions’, remember that means new alcohol restrictions in white communities.

6) Leasing aboriginal lands.

The Howard Government intends to ‘lease’ Aboriginal communities from the relevant Land Councils for five years, after which time Howard says that the lands will be returned unless they’re not. ‘We are not going to take anybody’s land’ he sniffed the other day, ‘without just compensation’, and any suggestions of a land grab were sneered off as ‘Ludicrous!’

And just to show he meant it, he repeated himself. ‘The purpose of this is not to violate people’s land rights’ we weaseled, ‘the purpose of this is get control of these townships and if there is any disturbance of title’ – Uh oh! Title disturbance alert! – ‘just compensation will be paid’.

Disturbance of title? A curious turn of phrase, no? Well, he sure meant it, meant it so much he said it again. ‘We are leasing the land for five years and then it goes back’ he condescended, ‘and if there is any disturbance of title involved in that there’ll be, er, compensation paid.’ Never mind if the communities don’t want to lease it it’s going to be leased anyhow –What’s all that mewling that conservatives do about the sanctity of property rights?

Howard knows exactly what he is saying – he is a wizard with the weasel word, a Sultan of semantics – because he hardly ever says anything he does not mean. He is the lord of linguistic smoke and mirrors, of plausible deniability, of sounding like he said one thing when he really meant the opposite, a paragon of parsing. He is a creature of the law, and knows as well as any other suburban solicitor just how malleable the letter of law can be.

Anyhoo, if there is one mob that really deserves that land, one mob that Howard owes above all others it’s not the voters of Bennelong, it’s the miners, and on crown land, well – they’re more than welcome! Shame about those sacred sites and that, but hey! We’re progressing here!

7) Abolishing the entry permit system.

The last part of the equation is the entry permit system, which the government seeks to abolish. This is pure ideology; John Howard just seems narked that Aboriginal communities get to say ‘We choose who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they come’ about their patches of dirt when Howard cannot do the same in Bennelong.

He said the same about Australia when it came to bombed out Afghans clinging to the side of a sinking bathtub, and circumnavigates the irony that had the indigenous population said ‘We choose who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they come’ to Captain Cook they might be in better shape today; instead, Howard insists on maintaining the conceit that Australia is one country and will demands that black Australia become white.

It all gets particularly loopy when the Liberal Party starts accusing the left, and Aborigines, of being ‘racist’ for arguing for a system that, on the surface, promotes inequality. Apparently it is un-Australian to lock our indigenous brothers and sisters up in outback ghettos and really, if the left had any heart at all, they would understand that what the blackfellas really need is some input from the rest of modern day Australia; not only that, throwing the permit system on the municipal tip of paternalism would mean greater scrutiny for evil doers who might be tempted to roam around the outer bush doing evil.

But that’s the point. After the Aborigines’ previous experiences of white mans’ input, Elroy cannot blame them for wanting to keep whitey as far away as possible but, as usual, logic has taken a holiday. The indigenous folk say that, contrary to John Howard’s educated and knowledgeable opinion, the best way to keep evil doers at bay is with – get this – a permit system!

Yup, the locals have the bizarre notion that being able to screen who can visit their isolated communities actually reduces the evil done to them by evil doers and even the police, not known for taking a blackfella’s side when a little oppression is in the air, agree! However, it seems that a community on Bathurst Island, rife with youth suicide and alcohol abuse, has been offered to keep their permit system in place if they sign a 99-year lease, so suddenly permits and all the little children are not as important as land. Why is Elroy not surprised?

Unfortunately for the communities however, the wagon trains are a-circling on the prairies as people doomed to forever wander a sunburnt country, the lost tribe of Australis known as Nomadus Greyus, look for a promised land to put their barbeque sets and park the Winnebago, ask for directions to the toilet block and where they can buy some fresh Tupperware, purchase doilies and air freshener.

Some forward reconnaissance backpackers have already been spotted asking the whereabouts of the local Centrelink office in the more remote locations, and nomads have started campervanning where no white man has campervanned before, despite the relevant legislation not having been passed yet. ‘Oh’ dithered the oldies, ‘we’d heard that we the permits had been scrapped’ as they putted around the perplexed peoples of the pittianhajara, ignoring the fact that they were in breach of the law and liable to be fined $1000 a day. Elroy always thought that oldies respected the rule of law, but it seems they follow the example of their man Howard and disobey if he says to do so.

Not that the grey nomads and backpackers are necessarily evil doers, but where goeth the Jayco Heritage so goeth the bootleggers, pornographers and miners both off duty and on. The Government says it is all for the aborigines own good, but has so far failed to reveal how exactly that will be achieved; meanwhile, forty years of land rights struggle is about to be undone as a favour to the mining chums, and forty thousand years of culture is about to breath its last.

So, in short, in order to save kiddies form child abuse the Howard Government is going to perform common assault on all aboriginal kiddies in the Northern Territory, to get them to schools that don’t exist and eat food they can’t afford the government is going to take their money, to boost employment and reduce welfare dependency the people will all be sacked and put on welfare, to outlaw porn the government will allow 24 hour sex channels on satellite TV, to outlaw alcohol the government will open ‘wet canteens’ on dry communities, to encourage self-determination the government will steal, er, ‘lease’ aboriginal lands, and to keep the bootleg alcohol and pornography out of the communities the government will abolish the entry permit system that keeps bootleg alcohol and pornography out of the communities. Excellent! What are waiting for!

Elroy is not suggesting for one second that the indigenous population don’t need help – they do – and Pat Anderson recognizes that it will take the logistical and financial heft of the Feds, saying ‘We needed the assistance of the federal government that had the bigger cheque book’; she knows that the problem of land rights, substance abuse, housing, education and health care will take years, generations, to improve, and millions of billions of dollars to enable that improvement, but Mal Brough says that the report’s ninety-seven recommendations along these lines are ‘band-aid solutions’; far better, obviously, to go with John Howard’s timeline of ‘six months’ and dollar expenditure in the ‘tens of millions’.

To be fair, the government has revised his guesstimate to $500 million per year and Howard now says ‘This will take a number of years, it will be expensive, it will be very costly’ but it is still not enough, and the haste with which this is all being cobbled together belie the possibility that the Howard Government, with an election merely months away, are actually serious about this mission.

The legislation is in the post, but a last-ditch effort by people who have no place at the table in this debate, those who actually know what they are talking about, is being made to head the postman off at the pass. A high-powered delegation spearheaded by Pat Turner, former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Coordinator and John Ah Kit, former NT government minister, is barreling off to Parliament House in an attempt to talk the government into taking a few deep breaths and, uh, thinking about it all a little bit more.

The government has pulled out all the hairdryers to try dry the ink on the 500 page legislation before the vote today, Tuesday, before the rest of the House of Representatives have even had a chance to spill their coffee on it. This is a huge constitutional shift, a major alteration in the Federal/State relationship but it is not even being allowed to go to a one-day inquiry by a Senate committee because, according to Mal ‘It'll only have the accusation that this is insufficient time.’ So apart from thinking that it is perfectly acceptable for him to second guess the Upper House and nominate himself as a one-man senate, what Mal is saying is that isn’t time for the senate to consider this legislation and to tell him that there isn’t time pass it. Viva democracia!

The delegation is also going after the opposition, whose me-tooism is not helping. ‘Federal Labor's job is to distinguish itself from the conservatism of Howard's government’, said Pat Turner,‘It has to show the people of Australia that it has backbone, that it is prepared to lead a proper united Australia that all stands for a fair go. The Labor party has to differentiate itself. It cannot hide behind the excuse of avoiding wedge politics.’

Politics, of course, is what the whole thing is about, and it all feeds into Howard’s brand new War on States. He says that his intervention is ‘an example of where a function that was meant to be carried out by states and territories has not been carried out, and it has been necessary for the federal government to intervene’, which means that he is being deliberately antagonistic, which means that aborigines are but a political football. Again.

In the end, no one in the government has been able to convince anybody except themselves of how any of these measures will prevent child abuse. There are methods but they will require extensive consultation, education, and lots and lots of time. One point The Little Children Are Sacred report stresses over and over again is that a top-down, fly-in/fly-out, Canberra driven response is the one sure way of guaranteeing failure, but Elroy is thinking that Howard is just planning ahead.

If, through some gaping vent in the space-time continuum, Howard makes it back to Kirribilli then this little initiative will quietly fade away. However, if sanity prevails and the PM is sent checking out the Twighlight Home for the Terminally Vanquished, whoever comprises the opposition can deride the ALP for not doing enough, or doing too much, or not doing it right, all the while knowing that, given the legislation they had bequeathed Labor, Rudd had no chance of success and that the sacred little children would not be saved.

The thing is, it does not have to be this painful. Among The Little Children Are Sacred report’s ninety-seen ignored recommendations are exhortations to improve school attendance; provide education campaigns on child sexual abuse and how to stop it; reduce alcohol consumption in Aboriginal communities; build greater trust between Government departments, the police and Aboriginal communities; strengthen family support services; empower Aboriginal communities to take more control and make decisions about the future; and appoint a senior, independent person who can focus on the interests and wellbeing of children and young people, review issues and report to Parliament.

Finally, after making such a fuss about actually asking the indigenous people what they think would be effective and working with them as opposed to at them, the last word goes to The Combined Aboriginal Organizations of the Northern Territory, who have released an alternative Emergency Response and Development Plan to protect Aboriginal children.

The plan is a comprehensive approach that gives priority to protection from immediate physical or emotional harm but also addresses underlying issues including housing, health care and education.

Unlike the current Government approach the Combined Aboriginal Organisations' plan builds on the recommendations of the Little Children are Sacred report and programs that are already working in Aboriginal communities. It adopts a partnership approach between Government and Aboriginal people and would strengthen the governance and capacity of Aboriginal communities.

It envisages the creation of a national lead agency to implement the plan and an independent monitoring and evaluation body to report on progress.

There are 68 actions in the plan ranging from developing an emergency response in conjunction with Aboriginal community representatives, boosting child protection services, proper training of a permanent police presence in communities, tackling alcohol take away sales and buyback of existing hotel licenses and improved schooling strategies to trauma counseling for victims of abuse.

Australians for Native Title and Reconcilliation (ANTaR )considers that this plan has a far greater chance of success than the current Government approach. We urge the Federal Government and Opposition to adopt the plan in a bipartisan manner.

There. Simple really, but John Howard would never understand – it’s a black thing.