Thursday 18th of April 2024

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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..

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.

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.

The courage to call the government what it is ( Nadim Joukhadar)

Margo, congratulations on the release of your book and thank you for printing Tony Fitzgerald's speech. I would like to ask why no one seems to have the courage to call the present Government by its rightful name. Tony Fitzgerald has stated clearly that this Government is neither conservative nor liberal. That is because the word best describing John Howard and his Government is usually associated with Hitler, Franco, Mussolini et al.

According to the dictionary Fascist means 'A reactionary or dictatorial person; an advocate or adherent of fascism.' Fascism means 'A system of government marked by centralization of authority, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.'

I know we have not quite gotten that bad but it is not that great a leap for the three key players, namely, Howard, Ruddock and Abbott. When our Federal Government uses the public purse for

Let's be proactive! (John Joseph)

I am thoroughly enjoying my read of your book. Now what can we do about it - that is where my mind is going. Let's try to be proactive! As a baby boomer (born 1952) I was quite active in the 1972 McGovern campaign in the Californian primary - I drove from Arizona to San Diego and pounded the pavement to help him win that primary and he became the Democratic candidate ( little did the voters know that the Watergate break-in was happening before the election).

Anyway, my point is that I was 20 years old - going to university and feeling I could make a difference - and I did something about it through the democratic process.

Can people make a difference today? Imagine a grass roots movement- with posters and bumper stickers saying- 'NOT HAPPY, JOHN!' It might make some voters think - it might make some more people read your book- and it might make a difference to the next election result.. I was wondering what others thought. It might help overcome the unbalanced medi

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

Barbecue for fingers in the till (Jane Rayner)

I'm only 41 pages into NHJ, but am having all my worst fears about this government confirmed. I have never trusted or respected Howard and everything he has said and done since he conned his way into power (with the help of the tame media), has reinforced my opinion of him and his camp followers.

It's not just the fingers in the till for Dubya's BBQ. What about Reith, Abbott, Heffernan & Co? Then there's the GST, the relentless dismantling of our health, education and welfare systems and undermining of the public broadcaster.

Finally, the lies. And they're not the 'does my bum look big in these jeans' type, are they? Falsely accusing people of murdering their children for personal gain is about as low as you can go, although I'm sure he can and will go one better.

George Orwell was a prophet.

But, in the end, it's up to us to stop the erosion of our democracy at the ballot box. And to send a clear message to all aspiring politicians and pretenders to th

People think I'm mad... ()

G'day. Ever wondered how it would feel to have your life interpreted in 800 words? I found out today, when the Sydney Morning Herald's Spectrum section profiled me at Power to the people. For the rough right's reaction, see Margo quiz.

If citizens are consumers... (Russell Marks.)

..then John Howard is the product. Indeed, he's the 'product' of Australian voters, most of whom, I still believe, are staunch party loyalists, and many of whom are naturally influenced by popular media. After all, in today's bureaucratised democracy (once, twice, three times emoved from 'the people'), the media is far more than the prism through which events are viewed: it is the *source* of news, and opinions, for many Australians.

I'm in the final chapter of your book, Margo - which I really only consigned from the bookshop I work at because I heard you on the radio (the A-B-friggin'-C, I believe). The point is made by 'Harry Heidelberg' that the title and cover emphasis gives an impression that its content will be not much more than just another partisan whinge. (Not that we've actually had too many in this country of late, particularly when compared with the plethora of 'Not Another Bush Book' titles that fill the shelves in politics and current events.)

In ma

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

Another new political party (Mal McKenzie)

Dear Ms Kingston, I have just read your website and have not read NHJ but will in the near future. Please look at the website We must obtain our country back.Thank you, from Mal McKenzie, the first vice president of the Great Australians Party.

Initial impressions (Ashley Herring)

I just went out and bought your NHJ! book at lunchtime today... sat down to read the first few pages over an afternoon coffee break, then before I know it I had found myself 30 pages deep and had to force myself to get back to work. I'm knocking off early tonight so I can get back to it! Your writing prose is very engaging.

Just a quick question: is the book cover done by the same people that do Peter Moore's great travel books (NSITT, The WrongWay Home, etc.)? That's what got my attention in the first place, I loved those books so your cover immediately hooked me in when I was in the book store.

Margo: The cover design is by Penguin's top inhouse designer, Sandy.

Good morning, I'm incandescent with rage. How are you? ()

I am definitely a liberal in all of the best senses of the word. That's why issues that offend liberalism make me incandescent with rage. Really? Yes. I don't bloody care who is behind Think how far this could go. Let's say I set up an anti-Latham site. We all know how easy I could do that. I could have the domain name and some initial material up in about 15 minutes. It'd cost me less than US$15. Would someone say I was once a supporter of the Liberal party and make a big deal of it? Would they threaten me with the asinine law?

This is why the internet will change the world more than we realise now. We heard these dreams 8 years ago......then we went through a phase where people said 'yeah that is crap, it doesn't enable anyone'. Who thinks that now?

What is different about Person X setting up John Howard Lies and a person standing in the Domain in Sydney or Hyde Park in London? When you do an open top double deck tour of London..

The trashing of the people's house goes on (Andrew Bartlett, Democrats leader)

Congrats on the book - I've got through it all and it's a very good and thought provoking read. I gave the book a brief mention in the Senate - see (the debate is from page 24868, the reference to the book is at page 24873)

I draw your attention to the 'debate' in the Senate authorising more works around the outside of Parliament House, as it is germane to your section in the book which dealt with the symbolism of Parliament House and public access to it.

The good news is the big white Lego blocks will go. The bad news is other more permanent changes will now be made. Whilst overall they are better than the Lego blocks, they still involve significant changes from the original design. I'm not happy with the changes, although they certainly could be worse and some effort has obviously gone into trying to make the changes sympathetic to the original design (unlike with the Lego blocks). However, I was more

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