Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, September 28, 2002

If you want to hear the human voice expressing more layers of meaning in one sentence than you ever thought possible you have just missed the opportunity; actor Paul Scofield in Don Quixote, the musical.

Plus old music made new. Just 18 minutes of it. Should be at least 60.

Unfortunately Auntie can't offer audio-on-demand of its Classic FM offerings.


Promotion for Radio National Breakfast on ABC television.

Two beautiful yuppies sit at breakfast. Nothing disturbs the peace but the clink of coffee cups and the discreet twittering of birds in the bosky courtyard outside the window, whence streams a warming sunbeam.

A newspaper each, no kids, all is white and bright, our couple sit in contented silence. Truly the Australian dream for a new Century.

Auntie, you want to interrupt all this with Vivian Schenker?

Scenario by Samuel Beckett. Message by Groucho Marx.

Jesus wept.

Friday, September 27, 2002

Phil fearlessly follows this pitiful excuse for a criticism of the Government's refugee policy on this afternoons' repeat of Late Night Live.

His minders had served up two old lefties, together with that lovely Professor John Yu, who is all compassion but doesn't have a clue. Phil probably thought he was in for an truly disgusting stroking session. It was not to be.

Phil kept struggling to get ex-Professors Helen Hughes and James Jupp to endorse his prejudices. They both know what they're talking about, and wouldn't have a bar of it.

The two have some differences. Jupp opposes mandatory detention, but would replace it with an ID card for all Australians. Otherwise, his policy wouldn't work. Splutter, snuffle, crap all over the microphone, time for an urgent interruption from the Chair.

Hughes, daughter of Jewish refugees, can't see too much wrong with the Government's policy

Neither of them will endorse Phil's "Australia as the rat's arse of the universe" doctrine. No return to
White Australia, rabid racists so few they must find it hard to breed.

Phil's Lugubrious flattery did not work, interruptions were wearing the poor old slob out.

Wait for the transcript in a day or so. If I remember I'll post some extracts.

Update Monday September 30th. No transcript. Sources:
"From White Australia to Woomera: The Story of Australian Immigration" Dr James Jupp
"Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers: A Global View" Professor Helen Hughes


Don Arthur is eating Uncle's lunch.

If you stick with this post you will find a good description of the standards of political commentary applying to all Auntie's regular political commentators.

For some unfathomable reason he directs his moral outrage at spruikers in print, where the range of viewpoints and quality we have to choose from is, in comparison, oceanic. And most of them are closer to his politics.

Whatever; I'll be plagiarising it soon, with a few changes of name.


Ever had this experience? You pull into a pay-parking space for a dash to the bank, needing only 50 cents for the money-munching fascist machine to buy your time.

Bingo! Through the car radio comes a line of words that just ties you to the seat.

Today's case in point: extracts of Fay Weldon's autobiography, Auto-da-Fay. What a girl! What a writer! What a voice!

Shit I'm running out of coins.

Ends up costing me $1.50. That is 0.15 per minute. It's free-to-air alright. This end of the broadcast is cutting into the pension.

The remarkable power of good writing, good reading and broadcasting combined. Pastes a man to his car seat and it's all done without visible means.

Never believe the propaganda about our ABC costing just 8 cents a day.

AOD is not available from Auntie.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Missing from the Hawke list of former Prime Ministers and other notables were Ronald McDonald and Paul Keating.

We may assume that Mr McDonald had more sense. What about Paul?

The phone box too crowded?

Right now reporters are rushing to Keating's jacuzzi to find out.


The 7.30 report's big item for the night: Has-beens for Peace!

The Silver Bodgie put together this great big advertisement saying Australia should not be involved in an attack on the Ghoul unless backed with a kiss on both cheeks from the Security Council.

Why bother, you ask, since that is already Government policy?

It's not as if Hawkie wants to give the Ghoul long to let the pest inspectors in. A few weeks rather than months or a year.

So what's the big deal?

Cop this! If we don't have the UN backing we'll be hated and subject to terrorism.

And if we go in with UN blessing? Dumb gratitude? Give us a break Hawkie!

As far as popular reaction from the Arab street goes, better listen to an expert from today's World Today


Today's repeat of last Saturday's Book talk gives us a long conversation with Don Watson about his very long book on Paul Keating's premiership which must have seemed to last a very long time indeed for Watson, the Bankstown bovver-boy's utterance-crafter.

The 750-page cat-drowner of a tome, Confessions of a bleeding heart, a portrait of Paul Keating, PM, won a prize from - are you ahead of me on this? - the Age.

I was given my copy of course, by a friend with a sardonic sense of humour.

Watson is blessed with a persuasive manner, even when he's talking utter piffle. He remains puzzled about what went wrong, and why "the times suit John Howard".

It may be because Howard goes out and pretends to like the electors, wears hats and stuff, shakes hands. What a scheming little prick! El Supremo was too busy in his office making real big policies, like how to get to the shops without being whacked with cricket bats.

"Who else on either side of politics has such a capacity to inspire, or make you laugh as much" cries Watson.

Try Mal Colston, then work through the list alphabetically Don.

Ah well, it's all over now. Gone is the nascent Europeanness of the Australian polity, with its cozy welfare at the price of a $.65 in the dollar tax rate and its optional work. And of course the compassion of it all. Instead Australia is being driven in dumb resentment down the chute to a US-style political culture.

Jesus we need that 11% unemployment.

Watson hasn't noticed that part of Europe called Britain.

He doesn't recognise the implications for us of Asia, Australia's economic out-performance, the Argentinian alternative, the growing satisfaction Australians find in their workplaces.

Watson just can't see most of what's happening in the world. He is, after all, a True Believer.

Pity the ALP.

LEFT RIGHT OUT. A simple guide for the confused.

Answer these simple questions to find out where you stand on the political spectrum.

1. Is John Howard -
(a) a cardy-clad duffer drooling over his cup of cocoa and maundering on like Sandy Stone about life in the 1950s? (10 points)
(b) a bare-knuckle street-fighting deep-thinking smart politician who is a certainty beyond backing to thrash Labor more often than Menzies, and without the help of the Communist Party or the Democratic Labor Party. (-50)

2. Is Alexander Downer -
(a) the parfait gentil knight of democracy and Western values, leading the charge against the Ghoul of Baghdad, striking terror into Tariq Aziz and a heedless passion for following into the Australian people? (-30)
(b) Australia's Foreign Minister (-50)
(c) a pantaloon (100)

3. Is Kim Beazley
(a) Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party (10)
(b) Still working on his election policies (50)
(c) A go-go dancer famous in the 1960s (-100)

4. Is Simon Crean
(a) certain what he's going to do about Iraq but not game to tell Caucus (20)
(b) not certain what he wants to do but going to do it anyway and with a very serious look on his face (40)

5. Is George Bush? (200)

The first reader to answer correctly all questions will receive a free licence to blog.

By the way, if you chose 1(a) you're Guy Rundle and you're at the wrong Website.

If you added up your points, click on through to here for help.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU'RE SORRY. According to Auntie, who points to our marriage contract. I was drunk your Honour!

Friends don't have to put up with all the crap. A bucket of cold water now and then is what makes true friendship.

What sort of friends, then, are the Friends of the ABC? Have a look at the evidence.

Friends of the ABC was founded in April 1976, not long after the Government of the sainted Gough Whitlam was administered a sound thrashing by the Australian electorate. The new Prime Minister was the execrable Malcolm Fraser, the same man whose trousers evaporated in a Memphis motel some years later.

It had been an emotional election. The Labor Party was deeply grieved that Governor-General Kerr had stood briefly between the massed canon of the Australian electors and the Whitlam Government, so claiming some of the credit for the resulting slaughter. Feelings of betrayal and fears of conspiracy were the currency of political discussion.

The incoming Government thought the ABC had not been watching both ends of the court. In January 1976 the ABC was presented with a 15% budget cut. The press played with options for re-making the ABC's charter. There was even talk of restoring the hated receiver licence fee, even worse, of allowing paid advertising. Commercial broadcasters circled looking for some choice ABC organs should any float free. Board memberships were left hanging.

In this heated atmosphere a group of 21 notables and others was convened to fight for the status quo. The recognisable names on the list are Patrick White, Donald Horne, Faith Bandler and Dorothy Hewett. If that is a representative sample, the political position of the Friends was somewhere to the left of the spectrum of views found within the Labour Party.

In other words, the Friends rallying to protect the ABC's budget were in no doubt which side of politics was better served by the public broadcaster. Joining the parade were many more people who feared the loss of particular programming, such as rural broadcasting. Others were horrified at the thought of advertising on the ABC.

In the twenty-five years since, nothing much has changed. Every time the conservative parties are re-elected there is a new burst of panic and the number of Friends swells.

Labor Party governments are often as critical of the ABC as their opponents, and make budget cuts. This, however, usually fails to create as much excitement.

The unfortunate result of this history is this. The Friends of the ABC have become, like many Parents and Citizens associations, captive of the organisation they defend.

The big thing is that no change should threaten existing work practices, reduce funding or introduce significant new stakeholders.

The Friends are happy with their doctrines. No-one else is. Labor suppresses its distrust, the Conservatives fume in resentment, willing to strike but unwilling to be seen to hurt. The politically committed within the organisation consolidate, there is constant attrition of funding, and management flounders trying to serve its numerous stakeholders.

Where do the Friends stand now?

More later. You deserve a break.

"PROVEN" OR JUST "STRONG". That's the choice we now have to make on the Blair document's case against Iraq, according to this evening's PM.

This is a ten-league advance on the view promulagated in last night's PM.

This time next week, Auntie's communards will be knitting socks for soldiers.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Robert Hill maintains a steady and considered Government line.

ERSATZ KINGSTON NOT VOMITOUS! Yes, Uncle is as surprised as you are.

Last night I predicted a grand future for Philip Adams's choice as substitute for La Incorrigenda. I was, I confess, guided by her track record.

In fact Annabelle Crabb proved able to tell a reasonably straight story. She remained largely undiverted by Adams's constant provocations to stroke his prejudices. DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN READ THAT METAPHOR.

With time Ms Crabb may well become a journalist, and therefore of no use to Late Night Live.

We all make mistakes.

RIGHTIST REBELLION ON THE NET! Or so the tropical Mr Ken Parish seems to think. Is he right? Do your own labelling, nephews and nieces.

Uncle would be embarrassed to tell you of his wasted years among the communards.

Has my lifeboat washed up on the right bank? Sometimes wonder myself.

Last week, while travelling in the region occupied by Parishes, I was limping piteously down the aircraft's aisle, hoping that a soft-hearted steward would have regard to my infirmity and push me into a business-class seat. Alas, all were occupied. One of these children of privilege I recognised.

She is a woman of part-Aboriginal descent, separated in childhood, through no fault of her own, from all contact with that side of her ancestry. I had some time ago heard her excoriating the entire Australian society and polity, not just for their many acts of bastardry to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, but for the inherent immorality of the culture in which we seem condemned to live. This jeremiad was unleashed without passion, since it was written for her by her government-funded office staff. It was received without comment, since the audience was comprised largely of those who have devoted most of their lives to trying to make good some small part of the damage.

As I resumed my normal gait down the aircraft's aisle, did I feel a rush of warm satisfaction at the sight? Did I see historical injustice being righted? Afraid not, although the good woman deserves comfort as much as the next person.

There, Mr Parish, enough for you to diagnose Uncle's political condition?

THIS FROM MR. BERNARD SLATTERY. AUNTIQUES...We have Uncle at ABCwatch to thank for this fine gift to the language.

You're welcome to the word, Mr Slattery, but please leave the English language out of this. It has troubles enough with Auntie.

HERCULEAN? I don't think so Mr Morrow. Never did like Agatha Christie.

PAUL WRIGHT points me to Biassed BBC, a pommy version of ABCwatch that puts its point of view right up there on the masthead.

I'll be watching their approach with interest. They have a reader input form for sin-spotting - clever buggers - but no transmit button. Early days yet.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
GREAT NEWS! Late Night Live (mouthpiece Philip Adams) has to go ahead tonight without its usual "commentator" Margo Kingston of the Sydney Morning (my God! it's Tuesday there must be a crisis in education!) Herald.

Cheer up! She's being replaced by Annabelle Crabb. Annabelle has served her apprenticeship in the Green Left Weekly.

Stroke, stroke, stroke. Purr, purr, purr.

AUNTIE BERSERK. ABC news and current affairs continued its attack on US policy tonight.

In a hard-hitting assault, the 7.30 report led with a vox pop of the British public, focussed on the acknowledged leader of the British people, George Galloway, one of Iraq's leading UK agents. (It is common practice in the UK for backbenchers to take commissions from organisations and interest groups, a fact you won't get from ABC news).

The Galloway view, at least five minutes of it, was buttressed by our intrepid UK correspondent leading his men and women in the street with such perspicacious questions as: Are you worried that...

Kerry O'Brien, the currrent Mike Moore of this truly committed and courageous programme, then sailed into an interview with a bemused US security expert. He totally ignored the Blair report's findings. Great tactic, Kerry!

Instead the talent was asked to respond to a series of questions in the form: "Isn't it possible that [insert possible negative outcome of action against Iraq]? To which any person of integrity could only answer "Yes", before attempting to provide some useful information.

At the end of it our Mike/Kerry was glowing with satisfaction at a job well done.

The news ingored. The issues distorted. Public opinion in the UK traduced.

You have to admire these fellows! They really know how to run a political campaign.

Pity we're paying for it.

THE BLAIR DOSSIER has been dropped on the table. Auntie's PM reporter found it a bit of a bore.

Perhaps because the ABC report fails to notice one of the key findings of the British evaluation.

Saddam does not regard weapons of mass destruction as a last resort.

Saddam regards the possession of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles as the basis of Iraq's regional power

That is, Saddam Hussein will use, or threaten to use, his weapons of mass destruction to achieve his political purposes. And we know what kind of purposes he has in mind.

You can agree or disagree with the British assessment.

Only a clown would ignore it.

THAT GRUB Frederick Toben has been ordered by the Federal Court to scrape the anti-Semitic, holocaust-denying sludge from his Website (find it yourself, if you must), according to Auntie's Law Report. What a stupid thing to do.

The Court's decision was based on the creepy Toben's supposed power to "offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate" Australian Jews. Some clearly were offended enough to employ lawyer Peter Wertheim to take the matter to court.

To make an ass of the Federal Court all Toben has to do is provide a link to any of the hundreds of sites based elsewhere that say the same kind of thing, some of it expressed in much more aggravating terms.

Or set up a blog.

No! No! says Wertheim, he would be jailed for defying the Court's order. And not for speaking his mind, of course.

"Who needs martyrs like this" responds June Factor, another lawyer and ex-Pres of the Council for Civil Liberties, "the best anti-septic is sunlight".

Kath Gelber, who teaches politics at the UNSW, proposes better strategies for responding to the hate-mongers. A lesser evil.

The problem is, if you make my freedom of speech depend on someone else's sensitivity to offense you limit my freedom of expression and privilege the offendee.

You can whack me if I shout fuck in church. I don't have to go there. If you jail me for saying it on my Website you're an oppressor. No-one has to read it. Probably no-one does.

Well done Auntie. A nice discussion. Listen to the aod or read the transcript, when they're up.

Monday, September 23, 2002

ABC news reports the toenails-over-the-line, arse-out-of-the-pants victory of the socialist-green coalition in Germany. Chancellor Schroeder has become the smelliest piece of flotsam left over from the European floods.

The ABC knows its for the best: The narrow margin of victory is a perilously thin basis on which to push through any of the major reforms Germany desperately needs to tackle chronic unemployment and ailing health care and education systems its "reporter" editorialises.

Those reforms were desperately needed last time Schroeder and his street-fighting, police-bashing chums won with a luxurious majority. He made the problems worse.

ABC news just assumes the red-greens have the intention and the capacity to do now what they wouldn't do then.

Keep the faith, brothers and sisters! He's got the rhetoric, the results just have to follow.

ABC ENGLISH; a cumulating collection from the ABC’s lingo-shifters as they channel the future of our language. As promised.

“The Federal Government is again on the defence...” Defensive? Sitting on the fence? Breakfast 24 September 2002, 7.34

“ to repulse” (verb), instead of “repel” Breakfast 15 September 2002.

MORNING MOUTHPIECE Vivian Schenker worrying away at the subject of Iraq again.

She leads her talent Harlan Ullman to join in. Won't pre-emptive action by the US against Iraq encourage others to do the same?

Perhaps Russia will attack Chechnya, fears Schenker.

That would be difficult. Chechnya is in Russia.

The BBC understands. So does every other government that you would want to be governed by.

Western governments acknowledge that Chechnya is part of Russia, although it escaped from Moscow's control in the mid-1990s. They agree that Russia has a genuine problem of security and terrorism.

Hot from the ABC newsroom. Australian tourists invade Queensland.

Sunday, September 22, 2002
AUNTIQUES! That's the word. Fits those privileged preachers of Auntie's.

You know who I mean. Lane, Adams and - at the comedy end of the line - McCutcheon.

Auntie's Auntiques.

These three, with fifteen hours of our national radio broadcast time between them, come from the same 1960s mould.

Like France's Bourbons, they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

What they haven't forgotten. There are people left behind in the rush of the liberal-capitalist world to greater prosperity. That governments have role in smoothing the bumpy road.

Great. Everyone knew that by 1880.

What they haven't learnt. Government failure. Bureaucracy as the age-old enemy of liberty and prosperity. The moral hazard of welfare. The growing plague of parasites carrying the banners they painted in the 1960s and 70s. That their salaries are paid by the majority they despise.

Why should they learn? Auntie's Communards pay them for staying ignorant.

Shrines of reactionary, comforting, tummy-tickling, adoration of the eternal present in which Gough didn't lose. He was robbed.

Whitlamism wasn't the playground of self-deceiving fantasists who couldn't give away beer at a trade-union picnic.

Cairns, Morosi, Connor, Grasby, rocketing deficits, soaring inflation, burgeoning bureaucracies, just the imaginings of the media moguls.

Except, of course, Auntie.

Just another dozen or so big-budget programs, another few percent tax on Big Business and the indecently prosperous, a few more public Corporations (just like Auntie) will make the dream live.

If that bastard Kerr hadn't pulled the plug!

But still there's Auntie. She's ours.

Not yours.

Stroke, stroke, stroke. Purr, purr, purr.

Should be R-rated.

PRE-SCHOOLERS PLAY IN THE SAND. The kids at Auntie's Pre-School for Preserving Undergraduate Leftism promised big things for this morning's program. Their email to the faithful promised news of impending catastrophe: The most dangerous sign so far has been the withdrawl [they wrote it] of funds from the United States. In the last three weeks something like $200 billion has been transferred not to the Middle East, but to Europe.

Must have missed it while I was cleaning my teeth.

The message from the other speakers at the seminar on security issues varied from the sane to the "let it happen until it's happened" kind of liberal response to the world's political psychopaths.

As far as Uncle could tell. The pre-schoolers haven't got to that bit of the playschool program where they teach you not to place your mike on the floor if the speakers are standing up. Want to know what its like? Spin up the old Victa in the living room while you're listening to your favourite chamber music. Better?

Uncle is not paranoid. Those who say that are defamatory Zionist-Bolshevik-fascist pigs. I just want you to consider this objectively.

Could the pre-schoolers be trying to stop us hearing the speaker who tells us that there are, "beyond reasonable doubt", al Quaeda-linked plotters in Indonesia? Or the one who described how loopy old Mahathir is quietly imposing islamism from above while jailing the islamists who want him and his cronies out of office?

Of course not. They had the obviously-pseudonymous Dr Feeley to straighten us out. The political shenanigans of the islamists are "fine" as long as they don't get violent.

You go right ahead, Adolph. Just remember to tell us when you're going to burn down the Reichstag and we'll debate a Bill to ban matches.

In any case, there can't be a real problem. Dr Feeley can only name six terrorists in Indonesia. What a relief!

Back to the $200 billion down-payment on the collapse of the capitalist system. We'll have to wait for the transcript to see the context. But bear this in mind.

The value of the world's imports in 1999 was $5729 billion.

Daily turnover on the foreign exchange markets exceeds $1.5 trillion

Don't panic just yet.

What is it with the "to Europe" and "not to the Middle East"?

I guess the message is that it is the Europeans not the Saudis who are pulling their money out in a vote of no-confidence in George W.

Does someone really think the European economy is a better bet than the US. Cretins!

Does someone really think that the Saudis would invest their money in the Middle East?

I'm going back to bed.

WATCHING THE WATCHERS. A serious charge of unprofessional conduct against Auntie's Media Watch television program. It demands indpendent assessment, and a public report.

Instead it gets this.

Included in the self-serving self-regurgitation is the following admission
"Our research is based on the work done by Amir Butler of Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee who took the trouble to analyse Albrechtsen's article."
presented to us without explanation or apology.

That is, our public broadcaster set up a publicly-funded posse to lynch another journalist on the basis of a "research" done by an islamist lobby.

This program is out of control.