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Showing posts from September, 2005

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1998

It's an even numbered year, it's the Labor Party, it's January... welcome to Hobart!:
Friday, 23 January
One black mark, however. The Conference dinner was held downriver from Hobart and delegates piled into boats to get there. On arrival, we were ordered to stay on board while Princess Cheryl (Kernot) and her two fawning courtiers, Kim and Gareth, disembarked first. The Labor Royal Family. I hate it when we mimic the hierarchy and snobbery of high society. In Australia, socialism has always been a social habit, much more than a political program. We are all equal in our mateship group. Now, unhappily in the ALP at least, some are more equal than others. - Page 71

This idea is almost as scary as Mark Latham, PM:

Tuesday, 24 March
An interesting conversation with Leo McLeay, who reckons that Martin Ferguson will be the next Labor MP: 'Kim will lose twice and then Ferguson will take over - he's got the working-class credentials and the support of the unions, just l…

Call centre blog

Interesting. A blog for those of us in the call centre industry.

Waiting On Hold.

Better than average Bush joke

A decent joke has landed in my inbox, a thankfully it's marginally better than the 'insert hated politician's name here' jokes:

President Bush and Don Rumsfeld are sitting in a bar.

A guy walks in and asks the barman, “Isn’t that Bush and Rumsfeld sitting over there?”

The barman says, “Yep, that’s them.”

So the guy walks over and says, “Wow, this is a real honor! What are you guys doing in here?”

Bush says, “We’re planning WW III.”

And the guy says, “Really? What’s going to happen?”

Bush says, “Well, this time we’re going to kill 140 million Muslims and one blonde with big tits.”

The guy exclaimed, “A blonde with big tits? Why kill a blonde with big tits?”

Bush turns to Rumsfeld and says, “See, I told you no one would care about the 140 million Muslims”.

Not bad.

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1997

Gee, that's unusual for Ross Cameron:

Friday, 14 February
Ross Cameron, the brilliant but creepy Liberal Member for Parramatta, has talked me into participating in his youth leadership forum in Canberra. I rather suspect it's a front for mobilising young Christian soldiers, plus some quality box for Ross. Thank goodness I wasn't the only one sucked in. Howard and Beazley addressed the opening session yesterday and gave some interesting insights into their background. - Page 57

And Howard the stinker:

Friday, 14 March
A great day's cricket, playing for the Parliamentary XI against the Crusaders at Albert Mark in Melbourne. Our side was reinforced by (former Australian fast bowler) Merv Hughes and the middle-order batting wizardry of John Howard. Actually, he's hopeless. A real rabbit with the bat and The Man From Unco with the ball, the sort of player who was an automatic selection as scorer in schoolboy teams. I walked away from the ground thinking, there goes Jo…

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1996

Was Gareth really a no-hoper in his short time as Shadow Treasurer? Latham reckons he was:

Thursday, 18 April
Earlier today, the mighty Gareth told me that 'I want to go back to Foreign Affairs'. He's trying to rote-learn the economy and it's not working. He knows nothing about National Competition Policy and Hilmer. It's really quire scary, shattering the image I had of super-competent Hawke and Keating ministers. The more I see of the frontbench, the more sceptical I become.
- Page 47

The first Howard/Costello budget was delivered in August, and for those who remember it was a grusome slash and burn budget as the incoming administration sought to turn around the massive deficit of Keating/Beazley/Willis (everyone remember the "$8 billion Beazley black-hole", a phrase in the rhetorical spirit of the Beazley flip-flop?). Anyhow, with health, education and just about every other government service having the guts ripped out of it, here's how Latham …

Latham pisstake

Kerry and Mark? Nope, it's John and Bryan:

INTERVIEWER: Gee, you've cut quite a swathe this week.

MARK LATHAM: I don't know about a swathe, Bryan, but I certainly cut a bit of a swathe during the week.

INTERVIEWER: It's a tough business, isn't it, politics?

MARK LATHAM: I don't know about tough, Bryan, but I'll tell you something about this business, it's pretty tough.

INTERVIEWER: Didn't you know it was going to be tough when you went into it, though?

MARK LATHAM: Yeah, yeah. You don't go into a business like this, Bryan, without knowing it's going to be tough. I knew it would be tough. I knew it would be tough. I knew it would be tough.

INTERVIEWER: Did anything surprise you about it, though?

MARK LATHAM: Only the toughness, Bryan, only the toughness.

INTERVIEWER: But you would have expected that, wouldn't you?

MARK LATHAM: I did.

A community service announcement...

For those American Northkoreaphiles comes this interesting snippet of news, courtesy of NKzone:

NK Opens to US tourists (briefly!)
Travel
by Simon Cockerell

I've just heard from Pyongyang that US passport holders will be welcomed to North Korea as tourists until the end of the Arirang Mass Games festival; recently extended to run until October 17th.

Koryo Tours of course and probably others will be running trips to the event for US citizens, during that time.

If you've got $2000 and a week spare, treat yourself to a mindblowing experience.

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1995

Did Keating know this early that his number was up?:

Wednesday, 8 February
Keating hosts a Caucus BBQ at the Lodge. He is very frank in his remarks, maybe half-tanked at the time: 'I've been here too long, that's the truth of it; 26 years is a long time.' For a moment or two, I thought he was going to pull the pin and resign as PM. Not a bad time to do it, in fact. Twenty-six years is a long time indeed. He's won an unwinnable election for us and become a Labor legend. Why not go out on top? But Paul hates the Tories too much to ever leave them alone. It's the obsession of a lifetime.
- Page 31

Latham nails Graeme Campbell, the then Labor Member for Kalgoolie and a Pauline before there was Pauline, in a way that makes you realise that Latham wasn't the only nutter wandering around Capital Hill:

Wednesday, 10 May
I attend the launch of Graeme Campbell's book by Peter Walsh in one of the committee rooms at Parliament House. It is a sad occasion, with …

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: 1994

Here's a story the media missed, then and now:

Thursday, 24 March
Graham Richardson's private secretary Marion assures me he was all set to swap places with Bob Carr - Carr for Senate, Richo for the NSW Labor leadership. Something change Richardson's mind the weekend before his resignation from Parliament. A nice little mystery, ass everyone smiles and gives Richo and happy send-off.
- Page 25

If these any truth at all to this story, it's quite incredible. Given the success that Carr went on to enjoy for a decade, this would have had a remarkable effect of contemporary Australian politics. Has anyone done any digging on this story?

Wednesday, 4 May
It also dragged all the major journalists into Canberra, who then kicked on to the pub in Manuka. Ran into an old mate of minte (now working as a researcher in ABC current affairs) who said that his boss (a prominent TV presenter) was keen for everyone to piss on back at his place in Kingston. Sounded great until we jumped …

The 'The Latham Diaries' Diaries: Introduction

As promised in an earier post, here are some interesting snippets from TLD.

There has been much criticism about Latham's inability to take responsibility for his own failings, and his role in his party's failure in the 2004 election. Whilst this perception is largely true, it is worth noting that Latham does accept some responsibility for his actions (though it does include the significant caveat 'by the conventional performance measures'):

My aim is not to rewrite my place in Australian political history. This is not possible. I never became a minister in a Labor Government. Under my leadership, the ALP lost seats at the 2004 Federal election. This disappointed many of my supporters, dashing their expectations of what I could achieve in public life. I failed in my mission to advance the cause of Labor, to make Australia a social democracy. By the conventional performance measures of Australian politics, my parliamentary career was unsuccessful. - Page 4

The introd…

Kim Jong Il: "Did somebody say Six Party?"

The past 48 hours there was some success in the six party talks aimed at disarming North Korea. Like most, I'm cynical until I see some action, but it does seem like a positive development, and from what I've seen a real shock to most Korea-watchers. I got the feeling that most though that the six party talks were all but dead after a failed round two month back, so this agreement has come out of the blue.

Back at the last talks in July, here was my suggestion for a workable solution:

For what it's worth, here's my solution to the North Korea tensions (you listing George, Hu, Kim?): at the next round of Six Nation talks next week in Beijing, the other five states should do a deal with Kim Jong Il. Give him an absolute assurance that the world will not seek his removal (STEP 1), if - and only if - the DPRK shut down its nuclear plants and give open access to IAEA inspectors (STEP 2). To be sure that he'll do the deal, the quiet threat needs to be made by the Chinese…

Vale: Simon Wiesenthal

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Simon Wiesenthal: "The Conscience of the Holocaust, Dies in Vienna" at 96

Simon Wiesenthal, the famous Nazi Hunter has died in Vienna at the age of 96, the Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today (September 20th).

"Simon Wiesenthal was the conscience of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the International Human Rights NGO named in Mr. Wiesenthal’s honor, adding, "When the Holocaust ended in 1945 and the whole world went home to forget, he alone remained behind to remember. He did not forget. He became the permanent representative of the victims, determined to bring the perpetrators of the history’s greatest crime to justice. There was no press conference and no president or Prime Minister or world leader announced his appointment. He just took the job. It was a job no one else wanted.Read more here.

Screw Harry Potter... give me Latham

I'm not usually found riding the literary bandwagon. My tastes are a tad obscure and off-beat for the Best Seller lists. This time, though, I just can't resist. After coming on sale this morning, by just after lunch I had my hands on a copy of The Latham Diaries. Asking the friendly sales staff at the Melbourne Uni bookshop whether there'd been much interest in the book, she replied in the affirmative, and explained that they were expecting to have difficulties getting more copies from the publisher, such was the interest. As I grabbed my copy, I noticed there were quite a few browsers, although whether they have the dedication to wade through 429 pages of Latham's ranting is another question.

Though you wouldn't get the impression from the media coverage, The Latham Diaries is about much more than his time as leader. After a lengthy sociological-anaylsis-cum-introduction, the book publishes Latham's diary from his election to parliament in 1994 to his fal…

Latham: depressed, paranoid and a suicide bomber?

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Why go out with a whimper when you can go out with a bang? That's no doubt the approach Mark Latham has taken, and it's one of the bigger bangs ever to hit Australian politics.

My suspicion is that Mark Latham is mentally unwell. When Jeff Kennett brought up this suggestion a few months back he was shouted down, but perhaps Il Duce was on to something. Having seen his appearance on Enough Rope on Monday Thursday at 8:30 10:30, and read his interview with Michael Harvey and Paul Kelly in The Australian on Friday, I get the distinct impression that he is suffering from some form of depression, possibly coupled with paranoia.

For me perhaps the most significant reason to think this is the fact that Latham has not restricted his savage criticism to a few select political opponents, but has lashed out at anyone and everyone whom he encountered in his eleven years in politics. Take Gough Whitlam, Latham's political mentor, first political employer and inspiration in the naming…

Review: Not Dead Yet, Theatreworks

A reviewer's ethical dilemma: I've been commissioned to write a review of a new play as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. The play is Not Dead Yet, a collaboration between Born in a Taxi (a well established physical theatre company) and Rawcus, a community theatre group for people with a disability. If the play is great, I'm free to say so. But if it's crap...? Should it be judged by the critical standards that other theatrical productions are judged by, or should it be treated more sympathetically by virtue of its positive social purpose?

Here's what I wrote. Am I a bastard?:

Death. It’s a word that you whisper. Utter, perhaps, with a pained grimace. Never spoken, though, and certainly never performed in a song and dance extravaganza. Until now.

It seems strange that death is a subject that most of us are so unwilling to talk about it. Though it’s something that we’ll all need to confront at one time or another, many of us feel that by remaining silent…

A sign of things to come?

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Earlier this week the Israelis concluded the bravest political move in the Middle East in a long time - the withdrawal from Gaza. For Sharon, this was a tough move which may still endanger his political career, though. Now that the withdrawal is complete, the pressure shifts back on the Palestinian Authority to see how it handles the governance of a newly 'liberated' political entity.



This aint a good start.

For more on the burning of Synagogues, and the international media response, check out HonestReporting.

"If you tolerate this..."

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From The Age...

AN AMERICAN environmentalist and peace activist, in Australia to talk about non-violent methods of protest, has been arrested as a security threat.

History teacher Scott Parkin, 35, was arrested by the Australian Federal Police in Melbourne on Saturday as he travelled to a workshop he was conducting on the US peace movement. Last night he was being held at the Melbourne Custody Centre.

An Immigration Department spokesman confirmed he had been arrested on "character grounds" at its request and he would be deported "as soon as practicable".

Whatever you think of his politics, this is a disgrace. It seems fairly transperant because of the government's dislike of Parkin's politics, probably with some pressure from the US. As Julian Burnside pointed out during the day, if he is a genuine security threat (which seems extremely unlikely), how did he get through in the first place, and why did it take so long to arrest him. This is not merely a quest…

Kimchi, anyone?

Spotted in Lygon Street on Friday afternoon: a delegation of half a dozen well-dressed middle-aged North Koreans, complete with Kim Il Sung badges. Unable to resist my curiousity, I started speaking to one in the group who spoke English. They seemed like a friendly bunch, but unfortunately I was unable to find out what brought them to Melbourne (presumably it wasn't the Pong Su). Any ideas?

Shareholder democracy

So far I've been quiet - well, silent, really - on Telstra, and I want to make a quick post about it. Not, as one might imagine, on the issue of privatisation (Ari's solution: split it in two: wholesale and retail; as a monopoly owner of infrastructure, keep wholesale in public ownership; privatise the retail divison. Easy. Next problem, Mr H?), but on something else dear to my wallet heart.

The issue I really want to muse on, though, is corporate democracy. Much as it pains me to say it, I'm a Telstra shareholder, and yesterday an invitation to the company AGM arrived in my email inbox. Not keen to head to Sydney for a morning of boring speeches and cucumber sandwiches, I decided instead to lodge a directed proxy vote. Whilst in the past I've been tempted to do this for the handful of companies lucky enough to have me as a shareholder, in most cases the effort necessary has been sufficiently high for me not to bother. This time around, though, the process is seem…

Passing Time - another great Bangkwang article

Intrepid Canadian freelancer the Virtuous Traveler (a.k.a. Leslie Garrett) has written an interesting piece on foreign prisoners at Bangkwang in Thailand. The author got in touch with me a few weeks back, and has included some of my comments.

Click here for my original first-hand account of visiting Bangkwang...

... and here's the latest, courtesy of American travel site Travel News Today (subscriber only):

Passing Time

Many tourists, eager to find out more about life behind bars or hoping to offer comfort and company, have taken to visiting Third World prisons. This week, Virtuous Traveler Leslie Garrett finds that while some dismiss it as a fad, the experience nonetheless leaves a legacy of gratitude and sorrow for those who’ve been face to face with prisoners doing hard time.

Ari Sharp, a university student from Melbourne, Australia was intrigued by the notice he spotted in a Thai hostel: "Visiting Bangkwan, Klong Prem and other Prisons. " The notice promised that it wa…

Clyde Prestowitz interview

A few weeks back I interviewed American economic policy wonk Clyde Prestowitz. The article that arose from the interview has just gone online:

This past fortnight I've become strangely addicted to a thrilling new page-turner. Whilst others on the train are thumbing through the latest Harry Potter instalment or some Dan Brown pulp fiction, I've been reading an epic tale of international intrigue and subterfuge, drama and debt, East and West, all from the pen (or more likely Blackberry) of Clyde Prestowitz. It's an exciting read, but as for the outcome... well, you need to wait a while. Give it another couple of decades.

Clyde Prestowitz's latest book is Three Billion New Capitalists. It comes on the back of several previous books which have contributed much to public debate both in popular and elite circles. He previously wrote Trading Places, about the trade relationship between Japan and the United States , and Rogue Nation, a book about American foreign policy.

When I…

"I can't even do this right..."

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Bad taste? Definately.