Friday 24th of May 2024

archive's blog

Why does Australia persist with 'compulsory voting'? (Shirley Vivienne Blair)

I do not agree with 'Compulsory Voting' I think the first requirement of a 'Democracy' is CHOICE? I would much prefer to have 'informed people' vote, than the present system of 'compulsory' voting and the handing out of 'How To Vote' cards which I find totally anti-democratic!! If you tried that in New Zealand you would be arrested! If voting was NOT compulsory, the politicians would have to be more accountable and work to win our vote. How many countries in the so called 'western world' have compulsory voting? I would really like to know the answer! Keep up the good work.

The only way is up ()

Another big day in the life of NHJ. Thanks so much for your continued comments and emails, both positive, negative, constructive and a hell of a lot in between.

Today's big news is the coverage in the Australian Jewish News (AJN). My Hanan Ashrawi chapter was always going to get certain members of the pro-Zionist lobby hot under the collar. This week, Margo and I lay out our case on Israel/Palestine, the often underhanded nature of the Zionist lobby and illuminate readers to the central issues of the chapter, oh-so-strangely ignored by the paper and Colin Rubenstein in past weeks. I reckon there's an agenda going on here, to not fully engage with the issues raised, but respect to the paper for allowing us to put our position across. The web has only a partial version of the story, so grab the print version.

The letters section

41 years old, 5'3' and somewhat disgruntled citizen. (Lisa Bolton)

I have just finished Not Happy, John! and was galvanised to leap onto my computer and participate in our democracy as a citizen. I went to the Webdiary site and was disappointed that there was not provision for me to add my comments to the articles which have been published there (like the Your Say sections of The Age).

I wanted to tell John Howard and the rest of the Liberal party that I am not fooled by their brand of 'look over there...' politics (lesbian mothers, gay marriage, flags in schools 'he punched me 15 years ago!') while the real issues are pushed aside. I am tired of being treated like an idiot with the 'WMD', 'they're all terrorists', 'axis of evil', 'it's not really torture' 'no-one told me' spin that they parrot word for word without thinking. I am tired of the lies that no-one is held accountable for, and a media that loses interest after the sound bite fades.

I want to tell politicians to be brave and not roll over a' la the capitul

Old enough to remember Menzies & CD Kemp (father of Rod & David and a liberal). Voted every govt in & out until JWH. Don't belon

I picked up you book in the Perth Airport and it really resonated. Several years ago I commented to a conservative friend, JWH is the worst PM in my life time. At the time I didn't realise the extent, or how this would evolve though. Your book filled in even more concerning detail that I wasn't aware of, or only guessed at, and put it all together in one place. Thank you. Every thinking Australian should read it. It has validated my views and motivated me to have more input into helping this country realise its potential. A healthy democracy is a fundemental prerequisite to this, but we as participants do need to work to ensure this is so. In these last few years I have never felt so disempowered and unhappy about the direction of our country.

Re Chapter 13: More on Marcus Einfeld re his views on Middle East issues/Sydney Peace Prize (Gerry Binder)

Sonja Karkar (Women for Palestine): (former Federal Court judge) Marcus Einfeld questions the selection of Ashrawi for peace and Women for Palestine respond: go here


Richard Walsham, from the NSW Teachers Federation, says Marcus Einfeld used a speech to attack the Federation over a resolution calling for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: go here

It's on for young and old ()

With just over two weeks since the release of NHJ, we're starting to get a pretty accurate view of the reaction it's been creating around Australia. Penguin Marketing Director, Daniel Ruffino, emailed me this afternoon telling me that after originally printing 10K (nearly all sold), then 3K more, now 6K in the last days, that's 19K total. We're understandably rapt and entry onto many number of top-ten charts will only help the message get even further. Word of mouth is key for NHJ so thanks for all your help in reading, writing and thinking about the aims of the book. As ever, this is a book for people to connect, work together and bring positive change to our democratic system.

So what else has been happening? Where to begin, really. After mentioning Bookcrossing yesterday (the idea of buying and reading a book, posting a comment online, leaving the book somewhere, and waiting for the next person to comment and so on), we've already got our
Ah, but did he? Sean writes:

I think I may have the answer to where Tony Abbott and friends came up with the idea for their group 'Australians For Honest Politics'. Follow the
link...and you'll see what I mean - sounds very Abbottesque to me!

NHJ! reports, you decide!

Margo Kingston - Brave and True (Matt Black)

As a resident of Canberra my orange ACTION bus trundles past the house on the hill twice a day, after burying my nose in Not Happy John for the last few days, I now seem unable to look at the Parliament House in quite the same way. Friends who are staffers and staffers who are friends have given me a long standing BS-detector in the political game but to read the background to events such as the Bush visit opened my eyes yet further. Well done Margo, your insightful and witty take on our great Prime Miniature should be required reading in all schools.

His systematic destruction of what constitutes core democracy (or is that currently non-core democracy?) will be a blight on the history of this nation for many years. If we are ever rid of the bloke the legacy he leaves will be one of mistrust, greed, ambivalence and intolerance. It is a shame that a book such as yours will all too easily be overlooked as a partisan work of self-serving denigration, which it certainly is

Site Funding? (Jack Robertson)

Can you inform NHJ! site visitors of the funding arrangements for this website?


Thanks Jack. Damned fine query, if I do say so m'self. What an incredibly astute, sharp, sceptical fellow you are. Why, perhaps you should consider standing for public office! In my unbiased view, you'd make a wonderful, wonderful Prime Min--[OK, OK, put a sock in it, Jack, we can see that this is just a test of the 'Queries' site. Anyway, it was Harry Heidelberg's query, and the rest of us know it - NHJ! Team]

The NHJ! website has been designed and set up at Penguin Australia (and supersidiary Pearson Australia) expense, using in-house IT Human Resources. Sorry, I should say in-house IT people. (Never know when Don 'Say No To Weasel Words' Watson is sniffing about.) As far as the daily maintaining of the site, it's done by the NHJ! Team on a volunteer basis (see 'About This Site'). Beyond whatever extra book marketing function this site may en

NHJ! Eating Trees ()

Penguin Australia Marketing Director Daniel Ruffino advises that a second reprint has just been ordered; demand has been 'huge', he says. It's early days yet, but interest appears to be very healthy. Again, many thanks to those readers - pro-JH, anti-JH and everyone in between - who've given the book a go so far...

If you love something, set it free... ()

NHJ! reader Catherine writes with a truly beautiful idea:

I would like to suggest that once you have read Not Happy, John! that you release it into the wild through Bookcrossing. The more people that read this book before the election the better! Wouldn't it be great if we knew numerous copies were roaming Australia over the next few months.

Fly, NHJ!, fly...

Sparking debate (A Gallagher)

I picked up NHJ! at Sydney airport on a return trip to Perth recently, after hearing Tim Webster interview Margo on radio. Several chapters in, a nearby passenger enquired what I was reading, which sparked a debate about Australia's involvement in the invasion of Iraq, the complexities of war, human suffering, former leaders and what the future holds. The passenger believed Howard to be a decent leader, and that the western nations with their democratic free will can improve the quality of life for the fallen and for future generations. As simplistic as it sounds, I talked about the cycle of grief, despair, hatred and revenge a citizen (and a nation) must go through when they witness fellow humans blown to pieces.

My father served in World War II, an Uncle in Changi, a brother called up for Vietnam (thankfully the government changed and with it went conscription), and I work with a 30 year-old son of a Vietnam Vet receiving treatment for a physiological problem related to his

Ouch ()

Many thanks to reviewer David Eastwood for his criticisms. (See Review section for the full review). My bold in the extract below shows the bits that pushed my (Lefty's) buttons particularly deftly:

...a couple of flaws in the logic I reckon: There seemed a bit of a tendency to play the man and not the ball. JWH certainly makes a convincing chief villain, but Australian politics has long been too cosy a duopoly and I'm sure it's fair to say that Labor are more than slightly complicit in trashing our democracy....

Score one for the NHJ! sceptics, at least as it applies in my chapter. It can be a battle at times for those long-frustrated types among us who have serious - and imho valid - 'ishoos' (ahem) with the PM to keep in the forefront of our mind that the man isn't actually the root of all evil in the world. And especially that, on a heartfelt matter like refugees (say), the ALP has hardly covered itself in 'bleeding heart' glory over the la

Webdiarist, refugee advocate, peace monger (Marilyn Shepherd)

When Andrew Wilkie came to Adelaide at the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I asked him a question he said I would find the answer to in his book. He understood that I had participated in many of the debates on Webdiary - everything from SIEVX, refugees, the Bakhtyari children's terrible plight (still ongoing), Honest Politics and of course, the Iraqi invasion. It would be a foolish soul who accused me of holding back.

My question was 'did the intelligence over Bali, East Timor, the Solomons, New Guinea and WMD's fail due to an obsession with refugee boats and so-called people smuggling'. I found the answer on pages 49 and 50.

All those who think John Howard is more than Margo has described must read Wilkie's book next and then be afraid, very, very afraid for Australia, for our lost democracy, our lack of security and the blindness of the coalition of the killing.

Fourth generation Australian, grandson of a Gallipoli ANZAC thoroughly disgusted with where Howard has led this country. (Gary B

John Howard didn't just appear on the political stage in the 1990's. He has decades of form. His record alone on race issues should have been enough to convince any fair minded person that he was not fit to be an Australian Prime Minister. This is the man who Malcolm Fraser says, alone in the Fraser Cabinet, opposed asylum for Vietnamese boat people; who vehemently opposed sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa; who raised the issue of Asian immigration and condemned multiculturalism; who voted in the Parliament against a resolution congratulating the Holt Liberal Government for abandoning the White Australia policy and reaffirming that Australia's immigration program must not be based on race. How any educated person could have voted for this man in 1996 is beyond my comprehension. Thanks for doing something to expose the true John Howard to more Australians.

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