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Category Archives: UnAustralian

I asked everyone who had been around Darwin in the 1930’s what they thought had happened to Dhakkiyer and almost invariably they say the police took him out into Darwin Harbour and shot him. – Ted Egan, Justice Of Their Own

In 1934 the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory sentenced Yolngu Clan Leader Dhakiyerr Wirrpanda to death for spearing a policeman. The controversial verdict was subsequently overturned by the High Court amid large-scale protests in Sydney and Melbourne. Dhakkiyer subsequently disappeared while in Police Custody.

He tried for the people. They shot him for the people. For his old people. That his mercy for Dhakkiyer taking all the way to the court. Sitting there no English no understanding just saying like this somebody else have to interperet English the wrong way and making him disappear.

Making him disappear! I am talking strongly because I am the last family and the son of Dhakkiyer. If he broke one little law inside that goal I want them to tell us. I want information from them. Let us know. Because it is true out of my heart, out of my knowledge comes out whatever I do. Keep me reminds back to Dhakkiyer.

I should be with my father. I should be with my father. Just because he left half of his knowlege for us. He left half of the knowledge for us. The full knowledge was taken to Darwin and was just disappeared. Thats what I’m looking and what my family are looking at.

We are looking at very strongly finding where he is.

Some people say they shot him near a railway line in Darwin. Some people say say they shot him and buried him there. Some people are saying that he was carried away to the Darwin wharf and thrown into the sea. Which make me and my family very upset. Throwing man like him, throwing man who is strong leader like him! Honest leader like him! Throwing him to the fish throwing like dog, throwing him like a cow or something for the crocodile, for the rock cod to eat him up. Full black warrior which make our culture strong

We’ve been waiting waiting waiting waiting until today still waiting we heard lots of story about my uncle. I dont know where is he, who kill him, what it is you people have been doing to my uncle. I like to know about a story from you – your mouth, your heart, your feeling your way of looking at it. I want to know where is he, where is he. In here ? In the water, sea, or in the mud. Where is he ? I want to know from you people so I can tell my people in here.

We are not happy. We are not satisfied about books story books writing in a book telling a lie covering yourself. I want to know about true story.

So please. We want our father back. So please tell us the truth where you buried him.

Acknowledgement

The text above is a transcript from the documentary Tuckier (Dhakiyarr) v the King and Territory by Tom Murray of Macquarie University.

In March 2008 John Howard received the Irving Kristol Award of the American Enterprise Institute. In receiving that award he delivered the Irving Kristol Lecture to the AEI. Howard’s speech was entitled ‘Sharing Our Common Values’.

Howard’s Disdain For The Media

During his speech Mr. Howard made the following remarks about the media, inter alia the prevailing situation in Iraq and what he views as the success of ‘the surge’.

But perhaps the most convincing sign of all that some progress has been made is the significant decline in media coverage of Iraq – noticeable both in the United States and Australia. The dominant left-liberal elements in the media in both our countries apparently cannot bring themselves to acknowledge good news stories coming out of Baghdad.

Media: The Enemy Of Government

I find Mr. Howard’s remarks deeply disturbing.

Not only does Howard consider the ‘left-liberal’ media to be biased, he also considers it to be the enemy. John Howard approved of the nauseating description used of the ABC by his former Chief Of Staff, Graham Morris, that the ABC is

our enemy talking to our friends [i.e. the Australian people]

It is very troubling that Mr. Howard considers the media so much his enemy and the enemy of what he describes as ‘conservative’ governments such as his Liberal/National Party administration 1996-2007 and the administrations of Bush Senior and Junior. (In fact, Howard is far from a conservative but I’ll leave that for another time).

Where the media is considered the enemy of the government, repression and intimidation of the media are usually not far behind. And where you have repression and intimidation of the media, Democracy suffers.

Howard’s Harrasment And Intimidation Of The Media

Today I read this article in New Matilda which described the systematic harassment of the media by the Howard government. I was shocked to discover that in my own country the government had regularly despatched police with hammers to destroy the hard drives of computers owned by journalists thought to be troublesome by Howard.

Narrowly Avoiding The Pre-Fascist State

Margo Kingston described Australia under Howard as a ‘pre-fascist’ state, a characterisation thought to be ‘psychotic’ by Gerard Henderson, his former staffer and a prominent columnist. But when police are despatched with hammers to destroy hard drives, one should pause for thought.

Whose Common Values ?

Mr. Howard entited his speech ‘Sharing Our Common Values’ implying that the values he personally championed during his Prime Ministership are also those championed by the AEI, and the Australian and American publics. However, while the AEI and Mr. Howard are in agreement over values, there is significant divergence between the values of the AEI and those of the American public and, as noted above, Mr. Howard’s hostility toward and intimidation of the Australian media are not values common among Australians either.

Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party occupy positions on the political spectrum which are to the right of the general American population as demonstrated by this article

The University Of Maryland Centre on Policy Attitudes took a poll just after the 2005 US Federal Budget and discovered that the government implemented policies to the right of the preferences of the American people on a very wide range of issues. In the words of Noam Chomsky:

Let’s start with some proposals about the federal budget announced last February. It should have a sharp cut in military spending, including supplementals for Iraq and Afghanistan. It should have sharp increases in social spending, meaning education, job training, renewable energy, medical research, veterans’ benefits, UN peacekeeping operations, in fact, UN generally. With regard to fiscal policy, it ought to be committed to reducing the deficit—it’s a burden on future generations, a very serious one. And it should rescind Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, a large proportion of them, say for people over 200,000 dollars.

Well, that proposal happens to be very conservative. It’s the position of a very large majority of the American population. Immediately after the budget was announced, there was a careful study of attitudes toward the budget, undertaken by the most prestigious research institution in the country, based at the University of Maryland. As they pointed out, overwhelming public preferences were basically a mirror image of what the budget actually was. That is, where the budget went up, the population, by an overwhelming margin, wanted it to go down—and far down. Where the budget was going down, the same overwhelming margins wanted it to go up, by again, very large margins.

In regard to the specific issue of Health Care:

The large majority of the public feels we should have a national healthcare system, like every other industrial society. In fact, about 80% of the population regard it as a moral issue, that the government should provide adequate health care to everyone. The number of people who think the healthcare system is working is about 8%.

The same relationship, or non-relationship between policy positions preferred by the American general public and those of the major parties was observed in more polling taken two weeks before the 2005 US Federal Election

Polls showed that in 1984 over 80% of Americans supported increases in social spending and a majority favored cuts in military spending over decreased spending on healthcare. Obviously the Reagan and his administration chose to curry the favor of 20% of the population when they implemented policy.

The United States is the only industrialized nation with no universal health care system… Chomsky cited numerous opinion polls, including those conducted by NBC-Wall Street Journal and the Pew Research Center. Each poll reflected that over 60% of Americans wanted a universal health care system.

The American Enterprise Institute is on the right of the Republican Party which is itself too far to the right to represent the American population on substantive policy such as Health Care, Tax, Climate Change, The International Security, Fiscal Policy, Education, Medical Research, Terrorism, Iraq, the conduct of US Foreign Policy, Job Training and Military Spending.

Howard receives awards from the AEI and describes the ‘common values’ supposedly shared with them by him and the Australian people. I do not think, however, that the media in general, supposedly in the thrall of the ‘left-liberals’ according to Howard, are considered by the general populace of Australia to be the enemy of the Liberal Party or the Republican Party either. In this thinking Howard is to the right of the Australian people and has entered into the domain of an unhealthy ideological spectrum.

The End Of A Nasty Little Era

I am very relieved Howard lost the 2007 election. Always an ideological thinker in economics, Howard throughout the 1990’s became progressively more ideological in his cultural and sociological views and in doing so has absorbed some highly undemocratic ideas from the American outer-Republican right. By 1996, at the time of his election to Prime Minister he had become convinced that the non-commercial media was in the grip of an adversarial, politically-correct culture that made it the enemy of ordinary Australians and conservative governments.

Canaries In A Coalmine

The American author Kurt Vonnegut was once asked what earthly use an author was to society anyway. Vonnegut replied that he thought authors and artists generally were like ”canaries in a coalmine’. The old time miners would take canaries down with them underground. When the air began to foul, the canaries being most sensitive would drop dead. The miners would then be alert to the danger of foul air and be able to vacate the mine before the foul air claime them too.

Kingston, in my view, was quite right. She was one of our canaries in the coal mine, and not the only one. Howard, I am sure unwittingly, was creating the first pre-conditions for the development of an Australian Police State. Without his stultifying presence the Liberal Party has space to remember how a Liberal Democracy should behave and our media can function once again without harassment.

Appendix

Here’s the excerpt from the New Matilda article where journos get their hard drives smashed with hammers:

In 2005, several months after publication of Axis of Deceit, a book about the non-existence of WMDs in Iraq by whistleblower Andrew Wilkie, officials claiming to be from the Attorney-General’s Department raided the offices of the book’s publisher, Black Inc, as well as the homes of Wilkie’s brother and sister, that of the journalist Carmel Travers (who had been emailed a draft copy of Wilkie’s manuscript), and the university office of the person who commissioned the book, the academic Robert Manne.

Travers later described to SBS Dateline how the officials spent all day trawling for information and smashed computer hard-drives with hammers in what they called an act of ‘cleansing’ that they performed regularly ( ‘We do this every day’) , and that they’d carried out perhaps ’70, 72 or 73 times.’ They spent a week at the Black Inc offices. All those who had their hard-drives smashed were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from discussing what had happened, which would have opened the way for charges under the National Security Act and the possibility of five years in jail.

From ‘Conservative Correctness’ By Mark Davis, ‘New Matilda’ 21 November, 2007

For more information on how the Democratic and Republican Parties are to the right of the general American population, Google ‘Chomsky Democratic Deficit’.

More
More on Pre-Fascist Australia here

I recently came across Lynton Crosby’s analysis of the 1998 Election Campaign, won by the Liberal Party. Lynton Crosby was the Campaign Director for the Liberal Party in their 1998 victory as well as those in 1996, 2001 and 2004.

Why You Should Not Believe Political Advertising

In his analysis of the 1998 Election Crosby makes the staggeringly deceitful claim that John Howard decided to preference One Nation last on ethical grounds and that the decision to do so came at a significant political cost to the Liberal Party.

I wonder if Crosby can lie straight in bed. Here he is in his chapter “The Liberal Party” in “Howard’s Agenda: The 1998 Australian Election Simms M. and Warhurst J., (eds), UQP, St. Lucia, 2000

The decision to put One Nation last on Labor How To Vote cards came at no cost to the Labor Party whareas a similar and totally correct decision by the Liberal Party came at a considerable political price”

and

Handling One Nation was always an axiomatic issue. Our research found that evert time the media focussed on Pauline Hanson her support and One Nation’s would rise in the polls. John Howard was right all along in relation to the handling of One Nation…To hound her personally gave her the oxygen of publicity which was essential to her survival. John Howard’s actions in governing for the national interest irrespective of the personal political cost spoke louder than any words ever could.

Crosby should be disgusted with himself. His article is nothing but propaganda, an attempt to inject falsehood into the political discourse to improve the image of his boss, John Howard.

In fact, Howard had only one objective with One Nation and that was how to handle them tactically to the benefit of the Liberal Party. Conceptions of the national interest or any other laudable ethic were never a consideration for Howard when it came to how to preference or otherwise interact with One Nation.

Crosby v. The State Of Reality

One Nation was established in 1997 and immediately commandeered 9% of the national vote, measured by polls, most of which came from the Liberal/National coalition. George Megalogenis states that the LNP vote fell from 49% in March 1997 when One Nation was formed, to 40% one month later ‘and all of it went over to the One Nation column’.

Howard could not afford to antagonize One Nation as their support base was comprised mainly of disaffected Coalition voters. Howard needed to ensure that One Nation voters would preference him, so he played softly-softly with them.

(see Megalogenis G., ‘The Longest Decade’, Scribe Publications, Melbourne, rev ed. 2008, p.223)


Margo Kingston in Unmasked Howard gets amnesia on Hanson provides a great overview of Howard’s tactics in relation to One Nation. This whole post is basically a paraphrase of Margo’s article.

Howard had two major objectives in relation to One Nation: minimize One Nation’s primary vote and capture as many One Nation preferences as possible. Howard was not at all averse to the policy agenda of One Nation so he had no reason to oppose them (by his ‘standards’, such as they were) on ethical grounds. According to Kingston:

Howard told his partyroom he’d prefer working with One Nation in the Senate to working with the Democrats.

Howard’s Problem

The problem that One Nation posed for Howard is that not only did One Nation significantly reduce the LNP primary vote, almost half of the One Nation vote went to Labor via preferences. So for every 1% of One Nation Vote the 2PP Coalition primary vote was reduced by approx. 0.5%. This was a huge problem for Howard and controlled his entire thinking toward One Nation.

Because of the sensitivity of the LNP 2PP vote to One Nation preferences, Howard initially decided to preference One Nation above Labor. This, Howard hoped, would send a message to One Nation voters that he was not displeased with the One Nation message, particularly in the climate of general social condemnation of One Nation, and maximize the One Nation preference flow to the Coalition.

Howard Rejects Principled Advice

In this Howard went against the advice and example of two of his senior colleagues, Peter Costello and Amanda Vanstone. Both of these made public comments that the Liberal Party should put One Nation last in the preference order on ethical grounds i.e. that One Nation were racist. Both received long and emphatic phone calls from John Howard they should retract their opinions, Vanstone commenting that Howard was so loud she was forced to hold the receiver away from her ear (‘The Howard Years’, Episode 1, ABC Television, broadcast 17 Nov. 2008)

Howard Comes A Gutser…But Only By Proxy

The first test of Howard’s tactics was the Queensland State election of June 1998. This election, held in the climate of a passionate Native Title debate turned the Australian political world upside down. One Nation won an astonishing 23% of the primary vote and, aided by Coalition preferences won 11 seats, while the Coalition itself lost 5 seats in Brisbane as inner-city voters expressed their disgust at Howard’s preferencing of One Nation above Labor.

If these results were to be repeated at the upcoming Federal Election, Howard and the Coalition would be soundly defeated. Kingston notes:

In the rural NSW seat of Gwydir, held by deputy National Party leader and Primary Industry Minister John Anderson, private party polling showed an incredible 49 percent of voters intended to vote One Nation.

Why Howard Really Put One Nation Last

It was only after the failure of Howard’s preferencing strategy in Queensland that he decided to put One Nation last. He could not afford to gift One Nation seats through Coalition preferences. Not that Howard told One Nation supporters that he would put them last. No. They still needed to be reassured that Howard was sympathetic to the grievances of One Nation voters. Immediately after Queensland election Howard flew to Queensland to meet with One Nation supporters and try to convince them that the Coalition understood their issues and would help them.

Howard now knew that One Nation presented a mortal danger to his political life.

Tony Abbott put the choices facing Howard and the Coalition succintly in his contribution the book Two Nations: The Causes and Effects of the Rise of the One Nation Party in Australia (Bookman, 1998).

The Queensland pattern suggests that a strong One Nation vote presents the Coalition with two alternatives: conceding government to Labor (by directing preferences against One Nation); or creating a credible rival for the conservative vote (by putting Labor last)…Obviously, rather than take a high One Nation vote for granted, the only viable Coalition strategy is to find ways of undermining support for the Hansonites.

UnAustralian

Thus was born one of the more revolting episodes of Australian political history, ‘Australians For Honest Politics’ , the slush fund created by Tony Abbott with the full support of John Howard.

The purpose of that slush fund was to provide funds for a legal battle on the bona-fides of One Nation’s registration as a political party in order to deprive One Nation of the publicly-financed electoral funding they were entited to as a result of their performance in the Queensland election. The objective of that legal challenge was to destroy One Nation financially. As Tony Abbott writes:

One of the key questions is the fate of the $500,000 worth of taxpayers’ money to which it has always been assumed One Nation is entitled in the wake of the Queensland election result. To receive public funding, a party must be registered under the relevant act.

Howard and Abbott needed the Liberal Party connection to the slush fund to be kept secret. This was important enough for Abbott, with Howard’s blessing to lie to to the Australian public on two occassions, once on Four Corners when it interviewed him on July 31 2003, and again in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2000. Abbott told the truth only when confronted by the SMH with incontrovertible evidence in the form of a guarantee signed by Abbott. As Kingston relates:

That agreement, a copy of which has been obtained by the Herald, was handwritten by Abbott and promised “my personal guarantee that you will not be further out-of-pocket as a result of this action”. It was witnessed and dated July 11, 1998. (See Tony Abbott’s dirty Hanson trick – and he lied about it, of course)

Howard Lies To The Public

John Howard knew all about the slush fund and approved of it. He lied to general public via the ABC on this matter. In a doorstop interview on August 22, 2003 Howard denied that he knew anything about his slush fund, but on August 29, 2003 in an AM interview he admitted that he did know about it. That doorstop interview was the only interview from the time that Hanson was sentenced for the irregularities in her party’s registration that did not appear on Howard’s Prime Ministerial website.

Thanks to Margo Kingston’s tenacious research we have this:

The DoorStop Interview (in which Howard denies any knowledge of AFHP):

Q: What about the allegation that the Liberal Party may have … bankrolled the campaign against Pauline Hanson?

PM: I’m not aware of the basis of that allegation. I’m sorry.

Q:Does the Liberal Party have anything…

PM: The Liberal Party to my knowledge, and bear in mind there’s a lot of people that represent the Liberal Party, but I’m not aware of anything of that kind…

EXTRACT OF ‘AM’ INTERVIEW, THURSDAY, AUGUST 28, 2003 (In which Howard admits he knew about AFHP):

McGrath: After Howard has persistently avoided the question … Can I ask you though, going back to that initial question – Tony Abbott (in 1998) said the juggernaut should be stopped. Did you think that too?

PM: Well I thought One Nation should be exposed politically. I believe that it was perfectly legitimate to pursue a belief, as Tony did, that there was something improper or invalid about the party’s registration. But that was in no way the prosecution for a criminal offence of Pauline Hanson.

(after more avoidance)

McGrath: So can I ask you though – if you thought back then that One Nation should be exposed politically, when you read it in the media in late 1998 that Tony Abbott had set this up and when he disclosed it formally to you, what did you think? Did you think, oh good on you Tony, that’s the way to go?

PM: Well I knew that he was pursuing it but –

McGrath: What did you think about it?

PM: Well Catherine I had a lot of things to think about then… I mean, let’s keep a sense of perspective. This wasn’t the most important thing on my radar.

McGrath: No, I’m not suggesting it was. I guess I’m just giving you an opportunity to explain to our audience who’d probably like to know, did you think ‘Good on you Tony?’

PM: Well look Catherine, Tony was pursuing this. I was broadly aware of what he was doing. It was in the papers. And for the Labor Party or anybody in the media now to turn around and say that this is a dramatic new revelation that demands explanation, I mean that isse the vernacular, give us a break.

McGrath: Well I’m trying to focus in on you really rather than Mr Abbott.

PM: Yes I gathered that. I’m quite aware of that.

[snip]

McGrath: But you must have had a thought about that.

PM: A lot of thoughts, and I’ve given you a lot of them. Let’s move on to something else.

Crosby’s Deceit

To summarize, Crosby wants us to believe that the 1998 election result was a just victory for a brave and principled John Howard who put One Nation last for reasons of the national interest despite enormous political cost. In fact, Howard was not averse to the One Nation platform, sympathised with Hanson’s bigoted viewpoints, tried to mollycoddle One Nation voters into preferencing the Coalition and resisted moves from within his party to apply a principled stand and preference One Nation last.

Only after the Queensland State election of mid-1998 did Howard to decide to preference One Nation last and he did so for his own political benefit, because preferencing One Nation above Labor cost the Coalition seats. In other words, contrary to Crosby’s deceit, Howard thought he would win more seats by putting One Nation last than by not putting One Nation last. Howard then set up a secret slush fund called ‘Australians For Honest Politics’ to finance a legal battle to destroy One Nation even while telling One Nation supporters he sympathised with them. Later, Howard lied about his knowledge of this fund.

Howard’s entire interaction with One Nation was based on how he viewed his own political fortunes. There was no laudable ethic involved at any stage.

Over to you Lynton Crosby or whoever wants to speak for him or his deceitful boss.

Appendix

What seems to be the original version of Crosby’s chapter in ‘Howard’s Agenda’ appears at Lynton Crosby’s Analysis of the 1998 Election dated October 23, 1998. It contains some additional material not in the chapter.

Murray Goot in ‘Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Party Cartelisation Thesis’ agrees that the Coalition was acting purely in self-interest in its One Nation preferencing strategy during 1998:

Goot says:

“Labor’s decision to place not just Hanson but all One Nation’s candidates last – a decision driven by its ideology, by its keen sense of self-preservation, and the opportunity to drive a wedge into the Liberal’s electoral base – dated from the 1998 Queensland election. On that occasion, both the Nationals and the Liberals placed One Nation ahead of Labor in every seat except one (Sunnybank, where One Nation had pre-selected a candidate of Chinese background).

The Nationals put One Nation ahead of Labor because they felt, correctly, that their seats were under threat both from One Nation (whose support was to be secured by an exchange of preferences) and from Labor; the Liberals may have directed their preferences to One Nation because they did not want to be out of step with the Nationals, their putative partner in a coalition.

If the strategy of the National and Liberal parties paid off outside Brisbane, where it won five seats from Labor and failed only narrowly to secure the re-election of the Borbidge Government (Ward and Rae 2000, 114), in Brisbane the strategy badly back-fired: urban voters ‘punished’ the Liberals for directing preferences to One Nation (Reynolds 2001, 156).

Labor had no common cause with the Coalition on this issue; on the contrary, it would have suited the Party well if the Liberals, in particular, had continued down the same path from the state election to the federal election. The fact that the Liberals decided not to [preference One Nation above Labor] had nothing to do with any arrangement with Labor and everything to do with protecting its own base – and not from One Nation so much as from the Labor Party.”

Polar Bears To Be Shot: Iceland Commission

Iceland adopts a cunning variation of John Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution’ for its own unlawful non-citizens:

Polar bears that drift ashore on Iceland should be shot and not offered a safe haven, a commission recommended on Tuesday.

The commission was appointed this summer after two polar bears landed on the northern coast of Iceland apparently after being swept to sea on ice floes from Greenland, several hundred kilometres away…Commission head Mr Johansson Howvargg (sic) said the recommendation was based on the fact that polar bears pose a potential threat to humans and were not in immediate danger in Greenland.

In further news, Iceland’s Minister for the Environment and Border Security, Mr Johansson Howvargg, said

UnIcelandic, queue-jumping Polar Bears pose a manifest threat to decent society. Any one of them could be a terrorist. That is why they are humanely subjected to an indefinite period of mental torture and then shot. We have been swamped with two Polar Bears to date. Entire colonies are even now deliberately setting themselves adrift from Greenland so they can gorge themselves on premium Icelandic Penguin and associated by-products.”

Bludgers.

I wrote to Dr. James Arvanitakis, whose essay formed the impetus for my ‘UnAustralian’ Post of last week, telling him I had used his stuff. He was kind enough to reply:

Hey Barra,

Thanks for the note… I appreciate the feedback…

I am waiting to see the next use of UnAustralian… could be around the corner. but who knows?

I am planning an essay called

Post-UnAustralian: feeling lost in a post-Howard world

I will let you know how I go

Great site by the way

Cheers, james

James Arvanitakis, PhD
Lecturer,
Honours Coordinator
Member of the Ally Program
Humanities and Languages
University of Western Sydney

Ahhhh. I’m a sucker for praise.

Former Prime Minister John Howard spent a good part of his time from 1996-2007 magisterially decreeing this or that idea or group or attitude or (frequently) the Australian Broadcasting Commission to be UnAustralian.

Are You UnAustralian ?

An immensely grateful legion of underemployed Australian Humanities professors were thus able to justify their sickly, parasitical existence by producing screeds of books and articles examining just what Mr. Howard actually meant by UnAustralia(ns), what it could mean for decent Australian society to cohabitate the wide brown land with the filthy-ne’er-do-wells of UnAustralia and how to prevent more boatloads of UnAustralians from blackmailing us into accepting their cancerous and arrogant presence into our peaceloving, tolerant and uniquely egalitarian gulags midst.

Where Is UnAustralia ?

I recently found this corker of a website devoted to the whole subject of UnAustralia. Its a funny and serious examination of John Howard’s UnAustralia and its political/cultural implications. Many thanks to the pinkos and bludgers at The Cultural Sudies Association of Australasia who devoted their 2006 Annual Conference to this subject while woofing back hogsheads of taxpayer-funded Chardonnay.

Since I too am a pinko taxpayer funded bludger I’m gunna blog their entire flamin’ conference here. It’s too funny and good not to.

UnAustralian History

Someone with the obviously made-up name of Dr James Arvanitakis provides some education about the history of the term “UnAustralian”. In his(?) crackingly good essay “…why I am an internally displaced person” he informs us that the first recorded use of the term “UnAustralian” was in 1855 and was then used as a compliment to mean “British”, popped up again in 1925 as a perjorative to describe militant labour, in the 1930’s to tar and dehumanize wogs and communists and latterly under John Howard to demonize (and here I am being quite serious) anyone who wasn’t John Howard.

Meet The Proprietor Of UnAustralia
UnAustralian is really John Howard’s word. Prior to 1995, Media Monitors recorded only 86 usages of UnAustralian ever, soaring to 406 usages in 2000 and 571 usages in 2004, John Howard being personally responsible for fully one-third of the 2004 output. I think it is fair to speculate that most of the remaining usages were discussions of what Mr Howard meant by UnAustralian, rather than new Market entrants attempting to snare a piece of the UnAction.

Thus entering 2005 with total domination of the UnAustralian discourse, Mr. Howard then delivered his most screamingly funny utterance ever. The then Prime Minister told the UnABC:

“I think the word un-Australian is used too indiscriminately by people who disagree with what somebody else is saying or doing.”

Yes, Virginia, he really said that.

Continuing, oblivious to the gut-busting insane laughter of journalists chewing their own legs off in hysteria he THEN said

I think we should treat the description of our country and our national identity with a bit more common sense…

AAARGH STOP IT STOP IT (pounds own head with concrete block)

It’s not an expression I would use carelessly

MERCY! MERCY!! I’M BEGGG BWAHA-HA-HA AAAARRR (the revolver quick hand me the revolver)

and I think people who want to criticise the government should find a rather more appropriate, a rather more genuine expression that that

HE’S STOPPED Ah He’s Stopped. ah ah ah … (the heaving silence of exhausted hysteria fills the night)

I Am You Are..No Scratch That… I AM, I AM I AM Oztrayliun (and you’re not).

At this juncture let us remember how Mr. Howard thinks of himself:

Q. How would you describe yourself?

A. As a person somebody very much with quintessential Australian values.

John Howard, interviewed on ‘Four Corners’, “An Average Australian Bloke”, broadcast 19 February 1996

John Howard thinks HE is quintessentially Australian. This is why HE can correctly determine who is UnAustralian and others can not. John Howard, according to John Howard, is the embodiment of Australian-ness. Those who disagree with him are thus, by definition, UnAustralian.

Chill Winds

It is amazing to think that anybody could be so arrogant and misguided to believe that they can infallibly define what is and isn’t Australian. To have such a person as the Prime Minister is a social and cultural disaster waiting to happen. A Prime Minister who is prepared to identify, as Howard did, various groups and ideas as hostile to Australian runs the risk of inflaming mob sentiment against those groups and those who express ‘UnAustralian’ ideas.

As Robert Manne puts it, Howard was comfortable with allowing a hostile populist wind’ of bigotry and chauvinism to blow up through the gullies and suburbs of Australia. I once lived near a Brewery. When the wind blew across the fermentation tubs, a very sour odour filled the district. By giving Pauline Hanson Prime Ministerial protection for the ignorant and bigoted comments she espoused, Howard allowed sour air to fll the lungs of the Australian people, much to the pleasure of many. Yet Australia did not descend into a maelstrom of race hatred. How did we avoid it ?

(see Robert Manne, “John Howard” in ‘Left Right Left: Political Essays 1977-2005’. Original in Age/SMH March 2002)

Avoiding Sour Fruit

Carol Johnson argues that Howard de-emphasised race, particularly Aboriginality, in the 1998 elelction campaign as he had already secured his anti-Aboriginal-Industry bona fides by the passage of the Wik legislation. This legislation, which drastically curtailed or extinguished Native Title claims in favour of Pastoral and Mining interests, along with Howard’s public comments on Wik and Native Title, provided ‘[reassurance] to potential Hanson supporters of the government’s credentials on Aboriginal isues’ and allowed Howard to move on to campaign on economic issues, specifically the GST and its associated tax reforms.

Howard, in his masterful cunning, claimed he was not interested in arguing with One Nation about race (why would he ?- he agreed with them on these issues). In this way, he could allow One Nation to run his racial agenda for him while pretending to be morally above it, or more specifically, engaged in addressing deeper issues that would dissolve racial distrust.

Howard knew that the underlying reason for Hanson’s support was the general feeling of economic insecurity felt by her support base. (The Weekend Australian 13-14 June 1998, cited in Johnson) . So he ran the GST as the central plank of his economic management electoral pitch, confident the Hansonites would recognise his racial credentials and hopeful they would support him on economic management. Howard claimed his strategy to defeat One Nation was ‘to offer the Australian people something better (i.e. in providing economic prosperity and protecting jobs)’ (Howard, Transcript of Press Conference, Parliament House, 30 August 1988) . Kim Beazley and the ALP had decided on a ‘small-target startegy’ for the 1998 election and thus conceeded the agenda-setting role to Howard. In this way, the 1998 election became an election about GST and the economy rather than race.

see Carol Johnson, “John Howard and the Mainstream”, in “Howard’s Agenda: The 1998 Australian Election”, Simms M. and Warhurst J., (eds), UQP, St. Lucia, 2000

Beyond Here There Be Dragons

It is interesting to speculate how far Howard would have allowed race to develop as an issue in the absence of Pauline Hanson whom Howard used to do his dirty work for him.

Howard would not have allowed racial invective to become the overt message of his campaign. Had he done so the electorate would have deserted him in droves except perhaps for 23% or thereabouts of the voters in Queensland and somewhat less in the other states.

But Howard is not about race hatred, just 50’s Anglo bigotry. His denigration and defunding of multiculturalism, his head-in-the-sand approach to the Stolen Generations issue, his opposition to the ‘Aboriginal Industry’ and Native Title and his denial of any moral element to the question of Aboriginal Reconciliation mark the limits, I believe, of his racial thermometer.

Furthermore these beliefs of Howard’s are driven by identity issues, not race per se, along with hip-pocket considerations (feared compensation payouts), economics (future of the Pastoral and Mining Industries) as well as a genuine philosophical commitment to an overarching Australian Nationhood as opposed to a Federated nationhood. Howard thinks that even the Australian States are irrelevant and that they both obscure and dilute the effectiveness of our national effort; so for him the concept of Aboriginal self-determination and Land Rights is a travesty, hindrance and offence against Australian national action, identity and interest.

As Judith Brett has demonstrated, Howard is a genuine member of the Australian mainstream and he does possess its virtues as well as its vices. Beating up Asians with four-be-two may have been part of the Eureka Goldfields, but it no longer has any place in the Bell Curve of the Australian Psyche within two (non-)standard deviations of the Manuka cafe district. Howard has done many morally retarded things as Prime Minister but I can’t imagine him inciting race war…except for that matter of the Cronulla riots.