Thursday 20th of June 2019


An arresting suggestion (Rick Pass)

Why don't we cut to the chase and just arrest Howard.

The UN Declaration on Friendly Relations says that no state may wage war without UN approval unless under imminent threat of attack. To do so is to wage a 'war of aggression' which constitues a 'crime against peace'. (A capital offence under international law - and no I don't think we should support the death penalty, I was just pointing out how serious the law takes this kind of thing.)

The Nuremberg principles state that culpability for waging a war of aggression lies with the head of state and the heads of government and senior ministers.

So here's the challenge Australia. Every time John Howard (or Downer or Hill) hit the campaign trail to shake our hands and ask for our vote, simply walk up to them, smile and ask them to accompany you to the local police station. The best way to take back our democracy is to insist that no man is above the law, not even the PM.

Springwood gig ()

G'day.I'm home after a weird experience at Springwood in the lower Blue Mountains. I'd thought it was basically a book launch, but the poster outside the civic centre read 'Reclaim our Australia! A community forum on honesty and values in public life' starring the unholy alliance of former federal Liberal Party President John Valder and me. Shit - what am I, the left wing Pauline Hanson! About 250 people turned up through cold rain and we had a ball, with fascinating questions from the audience. As usual., the Not happy John! stickers ran out early. The forum was organised by 'Blue Mountains for a fairer Australia' and the energy was electric. I absolutely refuse to believe that Australians are apathetic about the sick and sorry state of our democracy, and I reckon that lots of citizens will do their bit to shake up the system come the election. We'll see. We sold 89 books - not bad considering that Gleebooks sold a record 105 at the Sydney launch last month. There's even a chance tha

Fight for our democracy! (Guy Manley)

Dear Margo, the only comfort I have been drawing from the shameful and sorry saga of the Howard government over its term is that if we give the bastards enough rope they will not only hang themselves but be the catalyst for a peaceful democratic uprising, the like of which this country has never experienced.

That's where you come in. You are the first real sign of that uprising. You are a spark igniting the flame of freedom and democracy in our hearts. Thank you.

It's been quite lonely as an Australian who despises bigotry and tries to maintain some humility in this cowardly new world. There has been little respite from the barrage of propaganda that pretends to be media. Thank God for the ABC.

I'm a avid reader of your web site - it's what's keeping me sane. I bought your new book 'Not at all fucking happy, Rotten Johnny' yesterday afternoon and finished it last night. I left it in Sydney with friends, them arguing over who was entitled to read it next. Thank

Howard's extremist tendencies were known (Willy Bach, Greens candidate for Fadden (Libs, 58%))

Dear Margo, it's your troublesome friend Willy Bach in Brisbane. I am a slow reader, studying, campaigning, etc, and I have just got under way with your book. It is a very enjoyable read. But, I have to say something in relation to your decision to kick out Paul Keating in 1996 and vote for John Howard.

My recollection of that day when the election went the Coalition's way is different. I was at a polling booth in The Gap, at the Hilder Road State Primary School, handing out for the Greens for the very critical seat of Ryan. I was telling voters 'help stop a Thatcherite nightmare, vote Green' - like you are not supposed to, right? But people were giving me quizzical looks.

I remember that at 11 am (that's right) someone approached the Liberal team and said some quiet words to them. Suddenly they were all animated, hugging, hand shaking, beaming at everyone - as though they already knew that they had won. Probably a last minute poll or something. (Margo: The Gap - t

Keeping Democracy in its place' - why is Howard backing Microsoft against open source? (Craig Warner)

Margo, I would like to thank you for writing 'Not Happy, John'. Although I have not finished the book yet but it leaves me cold and sad for the next generations of Australian's who will have to live with the results of John Howards 'leadership'. The reason for this email is a chapter in your book which has put the fear of God into me. The Chapter is titled 'Keeping Democracy in its place' in which Paddy Manning writes about the Howard Government and NGO's (non-government organisations).

I've spent four years helping start and run a non-government organisation called Computerbank NSW ( It's a self funding group that recycles computers with Open Source software and gives them back to needy groups and individuals. During that time I had a run in with one of John Howard's hand picked and funded NGO called WorkVentures. Workventures attacked Computerbank NSW for using Open source software and being against 'friendly' multinational corporations. I took that one on

No room for Liberals in Howard's party, lots of room in the party of Menzies (Niels Worsoe)

Dear Margo, Thank you for your courageous book. It's to the point, well presented and written. I agree with everything you touched on. You invited comments and ideas; here are mine. Most Australians used to be taught that an uncritical view of our national past will generate an equally subservient acceptance of the present. Since John Howard became our PM we have been told to forget about the past and try to live in the comfort of the present, like we used to in the 1950s.

And we all know what they were like: xenophobic, narrow-minded and bigoted years when dealing with anything which did not originate in Britain, North America or New Zealand. Hugh MacKay has pointed out that 'most of us welcome lies that make us feel better'.

Hence the political success of John Howard. Or, as Curtis White emphasises in his book 'The Middle Mind: Why Americans don't think for themselves', when democratic principles are diluted as a result of lies and hypocrisy - whether by acts of wa

Plan to democratise Brisbane (Hamish Alcorn)

For a number of years I have been obsessed with the project of seeking a much greater level of democracy for our civilisation. A couple of months ago I presented a fairly detailed plan for doing so in my city of Brisbane to the Brisbane Social Forum. Since then a regular informal 'politics in the pub' has occurred every Saturday afternoon at 3.30 in the back room of the Boundary Hotel, Boundary St, West End.

As briefly as possible:

1. This is a plan to build democratic institutions, in which people can disagree in a civilised manner, so previous political affiliations are not only irrelevant but a diversity of such affiliations will probably be crucial to properly promote the project.

2. The plan is to develop permanent community assemblies across Brisbane, according to council ward. We have developed a draft constitution for these assemblies, which is fairly orthodox, except that membership is defined by enrolment to vote in the given ward. So everyon

Independent political recording artist/poet website (Annette Hughes)

Goodness Margo, I knew that there was something rotten in the State of Oz, but your book pulls the bodybag off the stinking corpse of our polity. I sincerely hope you are right - that we can reverse the decline in our democratic institutions, but the pong is so high now that the very idea of mouth to mouth resuscitation takes some courage.

Well done, and thank you for your passion and persistence.

Thankyou:-) (Jessica Amos)

I had just soft-bound my thesis about my doco script about 'the public right to know' and I saw your book, Margo, at the Syd uni co-op bookshop - I'm chuffed! To read it and find someone who cares actively about our democracy. I'll check out Webdiary.

Taking a stand - being 'out' in John's Australia ()

Fantastic email from Peter Peridis, which I post here as well as in the 'Direct Action' section where you might want to submit your supporting comments at his courage in taking a public stand in JH's Australia on a very contemporary issue.

Peter writes:

Hello, fellow Australians. So much has happened since writing my first (review) piece.

As I initially stated, I have been moved to take a stand. If any of you watched the ABC

Mea Culpa - Prolix Jack ()

In one of the most keenly anticipated and overdue technical interventions in blog-history, our automatic blog-word limiting function stepped in to shut me up on that last post, which explains the technical mess-up. Sorry about that, Peter.

I've reposted Peter's story, with far less chattering from me. (Painful when it gets to the point that not even your own computer can put up with your prolix overkill anymore.)

Congratulations on a great work and further concerns of Labours interpretation of democracy (Bill Martin)

Congratulations Margaret and to all the contributors to this inspiring and alarming work. After reading the book and noting the recent secretive behaviour of John Howard over the two Flood reports, I am still concerned that our political process is an exclusive club of privilege that renders those who join to obeying the club rules irrespective of what side of politics you sit. For me Latham and Labour will make no difference or change towards the necessary democratic models emphasised in your book. Their corruption to the bloodrush of power will overwhelm their perception of our democracy and result in more of the same.

The Howard arrogance is merely a replication of the Prime Ministers that preceeded him all the way back to Robert Menzies. The independants in the main are still frightened to use their power in case of alienating their constituents, it seems that only the Greens and Brian Harradine have the guts to take on Howards bovver boys and Labours ambitions of power and

What NGOs can do...if we let them ()

Betty Green, Community Development/Health Promotion Activist & Advocate out at the Bankstown Women's Health Centre, drops us a line on the attacks on NGOs, which NHJ! contributor Paddy Manning exposed in Chapter 14, 'Keeping Democracy in its Place':

Margo, as a feminist working in an NGO for the last 18 years I must congratulation you on an excellent presentation of the degrading of the role of NGO's both in the Federal and State spheres of politics.

I found myself shaking my head on a number of occasions as I read your excellent book and expose on the machinations of a government that works to discredit and silence its detractors. I have faithfully promised my friends to pass on this book which I believe is a MUST read before the impending election.

I am concerned that the voices of NGO's have been successively silenced and Big Business has effectively hijacked the democratic process. As an activist for women's rights I am passionate in seeing a

Follow up to 'Howard and Gay Marriage' (Sam Butler)

NHJ! reader Sam Butler chimes in (via email) on the 'Howard and Gay Marriage' conversation, with a response to the Peter Hackney/Margo K chat last week. Sam writes:

Margo, first up I want to say 'love your work', I think you're one of the last angry people and a passionate champion of your cause to defend democracy and expose the lies of the Howard regime.

I have to say, however, that I was a little disappointed with your reply to Peter Hackney's inquiry yesterday on the website. You were sounding disturbingly similar to Nicola Roxon with: 'Gay marriage has never been a significant issue in Australia - what gay politics is about here is giving gay partners equal rights re superannuation, tax concessions etc. Howard's change to the law is meaningless - it is already clear in our Marriage Act that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.'

While it is true that gay and lesbian

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