October 24, 2006
One for the Aussies
I thought Australian politics had become surreal when George Bush and John Howard were seen planting a tree together in Washington and a reporter from commercial television said the two men did it to show how deeply rooted their relationship is.From Martin Flanagan's column in today's Age, on the new and entirely foolish ABC policies for countering "bias" in news, current affairs and satire. The whole thing is worth your attention, as is Mr Flanagan's recent giving of the Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture.
The Howard Government chose not to be represented at the Wave Hill commemoration, an event said to signify the birth of the Australian reconciliation movement. As Peter Garrett, Labor’s shadow spokesman on reconciliation, pointed out to me at the event: he has no-one to shadow. The fact that the Howard Government has no Minister for Reconciliation is one of its most commendably honest acts, but what does it mean in real terms? It means, according to Patrick Dodson, that there is no dialogue. I have a saying: if you want to see white Australia - and by white Australia I mean John Howard’s Australia, which obviously includes people who are not white - step over into black Australia, then look back. What you see is a government that has no regard whatsoever for the thoughts and opinions of the people with whom you are standing as fellow Australians...
In the book I have written with Tom [Uren] I quote cartoonist Michael Leunig as saying the difficulty in working in the Australian media at this time is that we are expected to be moderate in a radical age. I find it highly significant that the two people I consider to have been the most serious critics of the Howard government over the past decade, Robert Manne and Malcolm Fraser, are both classical conservatives. We have all watched the many attempts made to make it appear that both these men have 'turned' or 'gone to the left' when an examination of their records shows they are simply applying the same principles they have always applied to the changing world around them. In the course of this lecture I hope I can appeal to decent conservatives.