Sunday 14th of July 2024

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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.)

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.

Politicians' List of Questions, Take Two (Terry Murphy)

Terry Murphy writes again to add to his original 'List of Questions' idea. Let's keep to 'em coming,,,

I was pleased that my idea of presenting a list of questions to candidates was so well received by Antony, but immediately felt the significant pressure of having to come up with more than the two questions that had originally occurred to me!!! A little thought and a quick flick back through NHJ provided sufficient inspiration. See what you think of these.

1. What steps will you/your party take to restore the convention of Ministerial responsibility?
2. What steps will you/your party take to depoliticise the Commonwealth Public Service and the Australian Defence Forces?
3. What steps will you/your party take to return Parliamentary Question Time to a real opportunity for the Parliament to hold ministers to account for their actions or those of their departments?
4. What ste

Married with children & not happy. (Marc Bondini)

As a son of a baby boomer, with little polical learning, it's now I feel the need for the strengthening our democracy and good leadership. This book as provided me with much valuable information that we as a family need to inform us of just how big the our rulers stick is. And how it is being wielded by an infantile Draco, with Gabbe and Goyle as back up. Life in the burbs is real John, and I'm happy being one of the bunch, but I'm not happy being pushed around. It's about time you listen to the people who put you there and understand why you're there. Please don't forget it.

The Baldness of un-Courted Power (Tom Spencer (up in Bris-vegas))

Margo (or should I ask Tony Fitzgerald QC?):

Isn't the real problem that political force is now exerted baldly, rather than through some sort of court? For close to 700 years the political force of first the English monarchs, and then later, Parliament, was exerted through some sort of court. First, the monarch constituted a court; the English king was thought to be able to make judgments as a common law judge until the Case of Prohibitions in 1607. Then, Parliament was regarded as a court; legislation was called the 'judgment' of Parliament until the seventeenth century, parliamentary privilege is really the privilege of a superior court (see Erskine May, 'Parliamentary Practice' 22nd ed., p.65), and until the nineteenth century the lay peers adjudicated as the UK's highest court as an ordinary part of their parliamentary duties, because, again, Parliament was a court.

Now it is taken for granted that the legislature is NOT a court; no-one calls legislation the 'judgme

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

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

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

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

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

Work for the Dole unconstitutional? No. (Troy Rollo)

At this query, NHJ! reader John Chambers asks whether section 51(xxiiia) of the Constitution makes 'work for the dole' unconstitutional. The short answer is 'no'.

Section 51(xxiiia) allows the Federal Parliament to make laws 'with respect to... the provision of maternity allowances, widows' pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances'. The words 'with respect to' means they can do anything with the power they like. They could ban unemployment benefits altogether if they wanted to. As regards the phrase 'but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription', this clearly applies only to the 'medical and dental services' clause. The section allows laws 'with respect to':
(a) maternity allowances;
(b) widows' p

A & R Bookshops (Bill Gregor)

Margo, just for your info - I had a similar experience to Phil Edwards (15/7/2004) at Angus & Robertson in Port Macquarie last weekend. They had quite a good selection of other political books but not NHJ and didn't seem inclined to stock it. I have emailed their Head Office to let them know that I am NHA&R.

NHJ! (JR): Thanks. Let us know if you get any response, Bill.

Digger's Oath suggestion (Siobhan Hannan)

Could we perhaps persuade Steve Waugh to stand? JH has always said that being the Australian cricket captain was the most important job in the country...replacing JH should be a snap for Steve.

NHJ! (JR). Not sure if SW is so keen on any kind of 'political brand' association with the nation's Number One Tragic, though. Waugh was originally invited to the Bush barbeque, apparently, but declined due to 'other commitments'. JH snaffled Mark Taylor instead - the opportunist polly's consolation Baggy Greener. (Kind of like inviting the PM to your footy grand final brekky and getting lumped with Robert Hill instead, huh. Maybe Waugh was, like, washing his hair on 23 Oct or something.) about Cathy Freeman for Bennelong? She's definitely got a political edge, and just imagine the fun watching the PM delicately seek out the 'right' populist line in debates on the Stolen Generations...

Transportable idea from the US presidential campaign (Mike Sprange)

This URL details a US advertising campaign to request that George Bush admit he was wrong about IRAQ. It could almost directly be transcribed for Australian purposes with Howard substituted for Bush. It has some interesting ideas in it.

NHJ! (JR): Going by the PM's post-Flood interview on The 7.30 Report last night, we're gunna need a ute full of gelignite to shift the PM even an inch on Iraq, Mike.

Confirmation of what I experienced. (Alby Sutton)

Congratulations Margo, you have confirmed what I began to realise in my second year (1984) as a Private Secretary on Bob Hawke's staff. Politics has very little to do with Polity and is nothing more nor less than a highly organised power play, with hypocrisy and subterfuge as its major themes.

I have only read the first 2 chapters and no doubt will have more to say when I finish what I see as a necessary read for all on the electoral role.

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