Tim Blair


New Criterion



Monday, August 09, 2004
THE DUFFERS' CHARTER against government lying was instigated by John Menadue, according to Henny's report.

It seems Menadue, another Labor appointee to high public office, was concerned about the "question of truth in public life... the government is getting away with extraordinary things".

What might those "extraordinary things" be?

The Prime Minister said in March 2003 that our policy was the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein
You would think they're about to tell us about Howard's LIES about WMDs, but these codgers are too wily to run so far against the facts. They just imply it.
The outcome has been destructive, especially for Iraq.
Who says so? Not the people of Iraq, who have welcomed the removal of Saddam Hussein.
The international system has been subject to enormous stress, that still continues.
The what? Does what? You mean Jacques and Pooty can't use it to set the agenda?
Because of our Government's unquestioning support for the Bush Administration's policy, Australia has also been adversely affected. Terrorist activity, instead of being contained, has increased.
Now there's a definite claim, and it looks shonky enough to call a LIE by duffers' standards.

Terrorist activity post 9/11, as far as Australia is concerned, means Bali. And, as the bombers and bin Laden have made clear, so far as Bali was about Australia its cause was our intervention in East Timor, not mentioned by these duffers. In fact a number of them were up to their necks in East Timor, and not on the side of the good guys. Their credibility is not helped by their comrade duffer, Ms Alison Broinowski, who is on the record blaming Australian tourists for the Bali bombing which was not, in fact, carried out by Balinese.

Bali was pre-Iraq, of course, but not pre-Afghanistan. Our duffers imply, in their slippery way, that they supported the war on Islamic terrorism as far as Afghanistan, after which Bush took the wrong road to Iraq.
It is a matter for regret that the action to combat terrorism after 1 September, 2001, launched in Afghanistan, and widely supported, was diverted to the widely oppposed invasion of Iraq.
I wonder how many, if any, of these duffers went on the public record in support of regime change in Afghanistan.

Of course they're all friends of the US. They just think that any Australian government that backed the US on Iraq was "just a rubber stamp for policies decided in Washington". None of these duffers were insiders in Cabinet decision-making, or had access to inside knowledge.

None of them attempts an assessment of the balance of Australia's self-interest between backing the US in its policy of changing terrorist-friendly regimes - with the FTA and good anti-terrorism intelligence as two of the obvious outcomes - and joining the stone-throwers on the side-lines.

One duffer and second-rank instigator, Mr Cavan Hogue, enlists serving Foreign Affairs staff to his cause. "If these people [he means himself and fellow duffers] feel like this, it's not unreasonable to assume that people still in harness think like this." It is a claim that no conscientious public servant can respond to, and it shows the low professional standards at the heart of this election stunt.

The duffers' case is not strengthened by the presence in their company of SIEVX fabulist, Mr Tony Kevin.

As a contribution to public debate it's pathetic. As an epitaph for a failed generation of Foreign Affairs heavy-weights and lightweights, it's a lesson.

When will these duffers learn that to be Michael Moore you need a camera to disguise your weak argument?

The last word to John Howard.
The argument that we took the country to war based on a lie is itelf a misrepresentation, and I continue to reject it.
Go on John, say it. Mark Latham would.

It's a lie.