Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, January 03, 2003

Auntie veteran and morning mouthpiece designate Peter Thompson is repeating his very serious interviews with notable Australians. And Joan Kirner.

They're called the Wisdom Interviews, leaving it open for us to decide in which direction the wisdom is supposed to be flowing. No problem in this case.

You remember Joan Kirner? She's the one the Victorian Parliamentary ALP chose in 1990 to stand on the deck while their government sank in a very deep part of the southern ocean.

This government was so bad it made the previously un-electable Jeff Kennett look acceptable. One reason - the state was insolvent. One reason for that, just one, the State Bank of Victoria.

This is how Joan dealt with the difficult question: to sell the insolvent State Bank to another bank that wanted the pieces, or let it go down with all hands.

Why did I make decisions? How did I make decisions, I should say. And I guess I’d always unconsciously done this, but I’d never written it down before, and so the first thing I wrote down was, ‘people must be respected.’ And then I wrote down, ‘people are entitled to a share in—when they contribute to society—they’re entitled to a share in it. So rewards, resources, people are affected by decisions, they have a right to be part of those decisions. And as I wrote them down—and people matter—which is something I think is the heart of politics. Oft-abused at the moment, on things like asylum seekers.

Joan spares us the distressing news that fellow members of her Party were so crazy that they thought owning this sinking wreckage made the difference between True Believers and Aresehole Apostates. And they'd elected her.

Pity that. If she had been open with us we could believe she wasn't a political cretin.

This was the clincher:

But as I wrote those down, I then eventually came back to my decision and my bottom line became, well, I will sell it because that will impact on Victoria’s ability to distribute any resources

The ALP wasn't silly enough to ask her to lead them into the next up-swing of their political pendulum.

I liked Joan's line about working-class girl making good through sheer talent and ambition.

And now I’d never been inside a university in my life. None of my family had and most of the community hadn’t, that I lived in—or none of them had.

Until I remembered that ten minutes before she had told us:

her [mother's] brother, who was no brighter than her, had an engineering degree

And her grandfather ran a prosperous business and was able to pay her father's mortgage in the recession.

Now Joan Kirner runs a business promoting her cronies (female - she's a feminist) into Parliament. And drawing a good pension.

It may not be wisdom, but it sure ain't stupid.


This can't be true. They haven't joined Friends of the ABC.

Scientists say they have discovered the strongest evidence yet that apes have culture.

Writing in the journal Science, researchers working with orangutangs in Indonesia say the apes have developed over 20 types of behaviour that are shared and learned within groups.

In one group orangutangs used leaves as napkins to wipe their faces after eating.

And they showed no response whatever to Eminem.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

December's press included two more comments on the Windschuttle demolition of unscrupulous leftist historians.

Ron Brunton wrote in the Courier Mail on December 28, and Geoffrey Bolton in the Henny on December 14. Can't find links to either.

I'm sure Ron Brunton ( will send you a copy of his.


Several between-shows Aussie actors are collecting signatures to oppose war.

We are raising our voices on New Years Day to say no to war. We are resolving to oppose the war and work for peace because we want a secure future for our families and children they say.

Uncle just couldn't sign on fast enough. Only by vigorous action against the lunatics with serious weapons can we fulful our obligations to our children.

Now I'm wondering. Are Kerry Armstrong, Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Gibney really backing George Bush?

Anyone work this out?

Tuesday, December 31, 2002
WHY CAN'T ALL JOURNALISTS write like Noam Chomsky?

A suitable conundrum for New Dimensions.

Our institutions are deeply flawed.

Especially the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National.


The Director of our National Museum, Dawn Casey, fears that our adolescent Museum will lose "international credibility" following a review by an independent panel appointed by the Government.

"Even if you incline yourself toward taking up the most recent debate that's happening and change all of your exhibitions to follow whatever has the strongest voice in that debate, you'll just lack the scholarship and professional integrity you need to have as a museum," Ms Casey said.

Curious. She means the phoney war over Keith Windschuttle's demolition of the left-consensus on Australian history on which the Museum has based some of its displays.

Is she conceding defeat? Probably, at least on the field of historical debate.

The politics, however, has just begun.

Is this the same Dawn Casey whose "credibility" rests on the infamous "Bell's Falls massacre" diorama? A confabulation of a myth, which not even the genocidists believe, with authenticating objects, like a firearm that just might have been used. If it had happened.

The Dawn Casey whose spokesman said the fabrication was being persisted with as one of Australia's "voices"? Then added a note saying the fabrication was "contested".

The Director whose Museum has not since represented other "contested" "voices"? Thank goodness.

Who wants dioramas of Australia according to Scientology? Apart from James Packer.

If that's how you win "credibility" among your museological mates, Australia can do without it.


Uncle is indebted to Pastor Terry Lane for this meretricious euphemism for those who employ gangsters to gain entry to Australia, mostly from countries of refuge.

Next time your travelling in the vicinity of the Pastor's comfortable residence, you might drop in for a week or two as an "informal guest".

When you've emptied his beer fridge and cellar you might consider trashing the joint like the Pastor's "informal migrants" are currently doing.

Sunday, December 29, 2002
Since Uncle's last despatch from the battle-front of the war about Australian history there have been skirmishes throughout those sections of the print media that concuss my slow-moving mutt each morning. (You'll be relieved to hear that I refuse to receive the Saturday Henny Herald. In case the RSPCA should hear about it.)

Of the eight contributions printed in that time, only two could be called reviews of Windschuttle's book. That is, written by people who appear to have read it, and addressing the issues and the evidence Windschuttle covers so thoroughly.

One additional academic historian, Stuart Macintyre, Dean of Arts at the University of Melbourne, has joined the gang of academic thugs so ably led by Robert Manne of LaTrobe University. In a contribution that gets Uncle's Monster Mealy Mouth Award (so far) Macintyre opines in the Australian of December 17th that Manne's concocted charge of plagiarism against Windschuttle "appeared to place Mr Windschuttle on shaky ground". Still, he leaves it open for us to believe he might change his mind if he chose to read the book. Don't time your boiled egg by it.

In the same item in the Oz, historian Tim Rowse of the Australian National University, who actually knows something about Aboriginal history, claimed that "[Manne's] plagiarism allegations were a small part of Professor Manne's rebuttal of Mr Windschuttle's argument that just 118 Aborigines were killed by colonists" so mistaking what both of them are saying. But we know which gang he's fighting for.

Most of the contributions in print are about the circumstances of the dispute, the personalities, their politics, their battle scars.

The cutest is from Gerard Henderson in Christmas Eve's edition of the Henny. He uses the dispute for a descant on leftists shifting righwards, according to his definition.

If you want to read a review of Windschuttle, there are currently only two that Uncle has seen.

Roger Sandall in the Australian of 23 December does a very nice job in a very short space. His demolition of the refuseniks is efficient, and he also draws attention to weaknesses in Windschuttle's own interpretation of the evidence that deserve further debate. To get this far he has to engage with the evidence that Windschuttle has put on the table, something that the academic historians who have spoken to date have adamantly refused to do. I wonder why?

Will any academic historian have the guts to engage in this debate on the merits of the evidence? If you see one emerging to challenge the left consensus, do let me know.

A kind reader has already put under my nose the second review, by H A Willis in the Canberra Times of Saturday 28 December (page 19 of the Panorama section). Willis bravely states the truth, that "Lyndall Ryan's influential The Tasmanian Aborigines (1981 and 1996) is shown, repeatedly and conclusively, to be grossly unreliable....The works of Lloyd Robson and Reynolds, somewhat more eminent academic historians, fare little better. has the feeling Windschuttle, like a cat playing with a mouse, is merely saving him [Reynolds] for the main course of a later volume." Willis also knows enough to find fault with Windschuttle.

Apart from the brave Sandall and Willis, this media war is still a phoney war. It will probably remain so as far as our university historians are concerned. But underground a fire is burning, and reputations are being consumed.

By the way, The Weekend Australian for this weekend devotes a large part of its Weekend Inquirer supplement to the issue. In the process it reprints an article on Manne by Deborah Cassrels, first published in the Courier Mail in 2001.

The Cassrels article makes it clear just how much Manne has got invested in the tendentious uses of the work "genocide" in relation to Australian history, and why old Cudgels has decided to go out in front of the genocide gang.


Uncle has good reason to doubt your intelligence. After all you're reading this stuff.

Until yesterday, however, I had assumed that you possessed at least as much ethical sensitivity as this well-scuffed moral doormat.

No more! How could so many of you - or a few voting so often - choose to abandon the tainted academic souls of Reynolds and Ryan? And in the midst of this season of good will.

Never mind. The questionnaire will remain on the side-bar, Bravenet permitting, so you can try to get it right. Remember, this is a quantitative/qualitative poll, so make sure the bastards don't vote more often than you do.

Think of it as a kind of deliberative poll. Only a bloody sight more honest.