Friday 14th of June 2024


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

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.

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

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

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.

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