Thursday 20th of June 2019


Idea - Develop a list of questions to be addressed to all candidates at the election (Terry Murphy)

So much of NHJ is about Howard's subversion of the parliamentary standards of accountability. I would like to propose that a list of questions addressing prospective responses to those issues be addressed to all candidates and their responses published.

For instance, 'What steps will you/your party take, if elected, to restore the convention of Ministerial responsibility?' and 'What steps will you/your party take, if elected, to depoliticise the Commonwealth Public Service?' and so on.

NHJ (AL): Terry, this is a really good idea. If pollies feel like they actually have to answer to their constituents, they may actually feel more confident in shifting from the party line. We've seen this recently with the government's shift in refugee policy. It's far from enough, but reports suggest that a number of Liberal backbenchers, due to concerns in their electorate, were quietly pressuring Cabinet and Howard to soften policy.

If Terry puts together a list of poss

A must MUST read! (Brendan Clarke)

I've just finished NHJ in less than 24 hours. Thank you Margo for writing this book because although I found it quite depressing and disturbing, I realise that it's not too late to save our country and our democracy, I think like a lot of Australians, I'd almost forgotten that it is OUR country. I will be making sure that as many people as possible read this very important book.

Mainstream press wakes up ()

With nearly one month since the release of NHJ, and the book still riding high in the Top Five of the national non-fiction chart, the mainstream press appears to be finally waking up to this best-seller. The Herald profiled Margo last Saturday and a review is supposedly pending.

The Age reviewed NHJ last Saturday. Written by Katherine Wilson, co-editor of the literary journal, Overland, there is no link available, but below are some highlights:

'The book's strength is that it investigates those in power through the lens of liberal democratic ideals rather than any ideological prism.'

'...Kingston gives a breadth of detail not available in the mainstream media, and a fascinating insider's perspective of the ways Howard and his minders reward compliant journalists and stonewall inquisitive ones.'

'NHJ will appeal to general readers of any political stripe, especially those who see themselves as moderates. Yet while it emphatically distances itself from

Disappointing: Goes nowhere does nothing and is hardly 'left' (Ben Woods)

I couldn't finish this book and I usually push through ALL books. I noticed another reviewer remark that the book does not address what the Howard government has done to education and health. Indeed, and I'm sorry any talk of the worth of Menzies and Paul Keating can hardly come from someone with genuinely left-wing views. The problem with all this is that Australia will hardly change greatly under Latham (another globalisation apologist), I hope he gets in and, 'one thing at a time' and all that, but the world ( yes not just us little patriotic Australians ) will not become a more democratic place until the power of corporations is severly restricted and more power truly is with the people. The ideas do not flow too well either, perhaps the book was put together quickly? The last Australian non-fiction work I read was Clive Hamilton's book 'Growth Fetish'. In my view this book presents more ideas for real progress than 'Not Happy John'.

Bullshit does baffle brains if you let it happen (Rod Power)

My son gave me your book for my 54th birthday on 12.7.04. It was a great present as I have not been able to put it down. However, I am only up to the final chapters where you talk about the attack on NGO's.

Your book is a credit to your profession and to you. Unlike the likes of Piers Ackerman, Andrew Bolt, Paul Kelly, Malcom Farr etc., you do your job. You are not sickening as no one pulls your strings, like the others. I do not read the 'Tele' or the Australian. The SMH is the way to go as long as it has writers like you and my favourite, Alan Ramsay. Betcha he could write a book or two.

There seemed to be a void in facts to highlight the wrongs of this government. The ALP has finally got some guts with Mark Latham. He is hamstrung by the fact that most Australians are bored by politics and get most of their info from the 'bloody Tele' or the papers owned by Murdoch.

They do not know how a our democracy should work - Howard is not going to tell them. Few know

Sales Figures? (Rodney Sewell)

Short question: How's the book selling? Regards and thanks for keeping the home fires of democracy burning.

NHJ! (JR): Figures are difficult to peg precisely at this early stage, Rod, but the short answer is: very well. MK's still highish on most bestseller lists as of this weekend, with, for example, Dymocks inhouse sales tally recording NHJ! at number four (non-fiction), and Neilson Bookscan (the industry-wide marker) putting it at number five on the non-fiction list and number thirteen overall. Penguin's done at least two reprints so far, and while accurate sales take a while to be confirmed, with I think somewhere between twenty and twenty five thousand copies now in print and many outlets reportedly 'out of stock', it's fair to conclude even at this stage that the book has found a remarkably solid audience. We'll keep everyone updated as more definite numbers come in.

Idea - Local Electorate scrutiny committees? (Douglas Winn)

I am an active self-funded retiree like others fed up with the sort of events you have portrayed. We got tired of hearing, 'What can we do about it'. You have to start somewhere.

We feel that every sitting member of the government needs to be accountable to a non-party local electorate committee which constantly monitors his/her performance and gives feedback as to voters' feelings. We feel he should regard us as the boss, not the prime minister. We feel the average government pollie is just there to distribute funds in his electorate in response to every request in the expectation that they will vote for him next time. Our bloke boasts of distributing $29 million since elected less than 3 years ago. Is this various grant money from assorted federal and state departmental accounts? Could it possibly be a local slush fund budgeted by the government specifically for his purpose, in the guise of meeting local electorate needs?

Pollies seem only to reflect back to

It's only natural. (Michael Ray)

Nearly finished reading the book. Congrats, Margo. Disturbing. Yes, but also enlightening. I had one of those cathartic explosions by the time I hit the end of the Pauline Hanson section - and I'm by no means a Hansonite. It's all about information.

Begin with faith in people and then add full disclosure and access to information, and it would seem impossible to have any government but a fully and naturally democratic one grow from that happy circumstance. Or am I being naive?

People aren't stupid but they are self-interested. I know I am - self interested, not stupid. And it's self-interest surely that democracy relies upon. In a good way; the good kind of self-interest. I make decisions that will be good for me and mine, and if enough of us make the same decision, we become the democratic majority and society veers onto that course. And if it didn't and our elected representatives weren't being responsive to our decisions, we'd know because, in my fantasy, the informati

Keeping the buggers honest - a Democrat's better angels ()

Democrats leader Senator Andrew Bartlett generously takes time out from a doubtless frantic schedule to send some very kind words our way in his NHJ! review. More importantly, AB updates us on the on-going saga of public access to the roof of Parliament House. NHJ! readers will recall what 'A Citizen of Australia' wrote about the symbolism of the roof in Chapter Eight:

[PH architect Romaldo] Giurgola did his best to honour [Walter Burley Griffin's] original intent by designing broad, sweeping lawns so that people could walk right across the top of their elected representatives. Every time I'd catch a glimpse of those lawns when driving about Canberra I'd think of Griffin's vision of our democracy: the people above their parliamentarians. Because Canberra is derided and resented by so many Australians I treasured that positive feeling about my hometown. And I confess that when visitors from ove

They Work For Us - Auditing Politics ()

Speaking of Public Record Geeks (PRGs) like me, Hansard, and all that lies within (in every sense of the phrase), NHJ! correspondent David Short sends in this utterly stunning (to me) website, which is the most user-friendly instance of democratic 'value-adding' I've seen in a long, long time. Dave writes:

I thought you might have an interest in this UK site: They Work For You. It's a system for crawling through parliament logs, keeping reference and forming a database. A person accessing the site is able to then search through the logs in a sensible fashion, seeing when their representative was last in parliament, what they've voted on, how they voted, etc. It links to registered interests and other articles so that following how well your member has been representing you is made viable.

Effectively it enables a person to evaluate how well they're being represented. Well - in my not so enlightened opinion it does..

I have started a Blog about political change in Australia at (Reg Gibson)

I hope that this will catch some eyes and get a real discussion going. This site is entirely mine and runs in a public free Blog host. It has no connection with any political party but does, I hope, have a connection with Australians in general. Let's find ways to improve Australia.

NHJ! (Jack R): Good luck with your site and with advocating for change, Reg.

57yo male (Mike Sprange)

NHJ not available at A&R Port Stephens? Hmmm isn't that where JWH goes for his holidays?

A coincidence?

NHJ! (JR): Hmmm, now there's a conspiracy theory we haven't heard before. And you never know...although they're more likely just out of stock. Either way, you can sidestep the 'A&R man on the grassy knoll' by buying online here, Mike.

Independent Candidate for Berowra vs Ruddock - Some issues covered in in MK's book have more to them than I'd thought (Matthew B

The main value of 'Not Happy John' for me was to be able to reflect on the significace of some issues that I have tended to brush over as a current affairs observer. I think I have become so used to outrageous behavious from the present government that it has become taken for granted. The chapter on the Bush visit is a case in point - I had taken it for granted that Howard & Bush were running this circus, but the chapter spelt out in detail the significance for our sovereignty and the integrity of our parliament of all of that. I am intending to run as an Independent against Ruddock in Berowra. I have an as yet underformed web-site - The main thing lacking is policies! That is not, however, because I do not have any, it's just that I have not written them up yet. There are feedback forms and an area for viewers to send in comments similar to this page. I welcome readers to check it out from time to time and watch the policies take shape, as well helpin

Shirley Vivian Blair and compulsory voting (Jaimie Polson)

I am intrigued by Shirley Vivian Blair's views against compulsory voting. She says the first requirement of democracy is choice. Indeed, however that choice is for your preferred representative, not the choice to abstain from voting. By definition, democracy is government in which the sovereign power is exercised by officers elected by the people. Therefore best-style democracy requires everyone to vote, and compulsory voting strives for this goal. As an Australian living overseas in a country that does not have compulsory voting, and where voter turnout may be as low as 30%, I see compulsory voting as a vastly superior form of democracy. Her preference for only

Grass roots action to save an independent media (Peter Leith)

So many people seem to neither know nor care about media concentration that I sometimes feel sure I must be a crank. I've attached for your information the outline of a 90 minute presentation that I made yesterday to 15 members ot my U3A Group and 12 of the residents of the William Hall RSL Hostel which out Group visits every four weeks. It was rather alarming to find out that none of the people there had any idea how close we came to having the Cross Media and Foreign Ownership regulations emasculated.

Here's the attachment to ten Victorian U3A Groups and the response to date is heartening. I look forward to learning from you what I might do to keep in the good books of my grandchildren.

Monopoly and the Media - presented to the members of the Yarra Valley U3A

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