Our Great Mendacious Prime Minister
John Wedge Howard is the most successful prime minister of Australia if
we choose to measure success by how well one can fool the Australian
people. These are his latest wondrous achievements, abetted by a docile
His ex-minister Peter Reith who was warned by the Australian Navy no
less than 14 times that there were no children thrown overboard
has now been appointed Australia's representative to the EU Bank admin
at a tax-free salary of $250,000 pa. Reith, of Telecard and Attack Dog
fame, claimed that he did not pass on the Australian Navy warnings to
Howard during the election. Well, as a journalist said, for $250,000
pa, most people could be persuaded not to publish their memoirs. Smells
of hush money to me.
The SMH, of all the papers (one expects this type of nonsense of the
Murdoch Australian and Telegraph), a few days ago had the front page
headlines "Howard To Bring Troops Home". On Saturday, it was revealed
that 1,500 of them will actually stay on to help the U.S. occupy Iraq.
Not that we should not do our best to re-habilitate a country so badly
f**ked up by the Coalition of the Willing, but our expertise is best
provided in the form of public health, education and other
infrastructure. We owe it to the Iraqis, but not by using our
troops. Clever Howard, the specialist in mis-information.
Medicare is Dead. Little by little, Howard killed it by a thousand
cuts. The technique is as simple as it is effective. First you starve
it of funds. Then you say, "Oh, what a mess it is, how lousy are its
services, and it's because it is in public hands". Then you subsidise
its private health fund rivals to the tune of $2.3 billion a year, about
the amout it will take to fix up our decrepit hospital system. Such
What he did to Medicare, Howard is now doing to the Universities. Did
you hear the latest inspriration from his lot? They are now considering
the public funding of private universities so that
underperforming socialist hotbeds like UNSW, Sydney, and
Wollongong can have the spur of competition! Gee, I guess we
need Harvard/Oxford level institutions like Bond to frigtten us into
really working rather than be the chardonnay and latte wimps that we so
But this is
nothing very novel, if you had been watching Howard's trick with the
Australian school system. How many of you have seen a local government
school close because of "small enrollment", and therefore insufficient
Commonwealth funding? "Small" can be 300. Then a year after it closes,
a new Christian (usually evangelistic and fundamentalist,
anti-evolution, right-wing) school opens with an enrollment of 100 --
happily funded by the Commonwealth. This was fine for many, because the
kids who went there were mainly white and yellow. No brown, no black.
But then other religions got the idea, and there are sectarian Muslim
schools sprouting up too, also funded by the Commonwealth. And you know
what, some of our Liberal Party chums are getting nervous about them!
Delicious side effect!
If you hear any of them complaining at a cocktail party (I don't get
invited to those any more, for some unfathomable reason), I suggest you
mumble and stammer
something about sauces for geeese and ganders, that is if you wish
to be invited back next time. They don't take too kindly to laughter --
mumbling and stammering is fine, as this is what the British upper class
This year, the total Commonwealth funds for private schools will exceed
the total funds for all universities for the first time.
But don't despair. Democracy, unlike dictatorships, can sometimes force
change. Just look at the Ethanol Affair. For a good year, despite the
urging of the NRMA, GM Holden, Toyota, Ford, etc., Howard refused to cap
the ethanol content in petrol to 10%. The evidence of engine damage at
higher levels than that was overwhelming. Why his refusal? Hmmm, maybe
it is just a coincidence, but the monopolistic supplier of ethanol is
Manildra, a very generous contributor to Liberal Party coffers. But the
rumblings in the marginal seats have now persuaded him to agree to a
cap. If only Australians were as tuned to international politics
and social equity as to their hip-pockets!