Will we ever know the truth about Australia and Timor Leste?

The compelling evidence about Australian greed and perfidy over East Timor and the oil and gas rights to the rich resources between the two countries has been added to by recent documentary releases in a running AAT dispute between the National Archives (effectively the Australian Government) and Kim McGrath the author of Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea. read more

Getting kicked for Cromwell

Last year the blog decided it would take off to the UK to attend the Cromwell Association Annual General Meeting – a trip which it had been hoping to make for many years.

The fact that the meeting was being held in Shrewsbury – within striking distance of Liverpool, Wales, Bath, Bristol, Stonehenge and Avebury – was another attraction but having been a member for 40 odd years the blog thought it was about time. Indeed, it followed on from the blog’s decision in the same year to participate in an Anzac Day service for the first time in the 48 years since it got back from Vietnam. For those interested in that address it can be found here. read more

Snowflakes, hypocrisy and glass jaws

Hearing political operators chat among themselves about their opponents, both in their own and other parties, is probably one of the most dispiriting experiences possible even to the most deeply cynical of us.

In the Labor Party it often features vulgar nicknames for factional opponents, scatological attacks, derision, contempt and denial that anyone could have acted on a principled basis; while among Liberals it includes all of the above laced with monumental servings of sexism. read more

Remembering Allan Whittaker on Anzac Day

Allan Whittaker, a Port Melbourne waterside worker, was wounded at Gallipoli on April 25 1915. Thirteen years later on November 2 1928, during the waterfront lock out, he was shot in the back by police on the beach at Port Melbourne. He died from his wounds on January 26 1929.

Allan’s brother Percy was also at Gallipoli later serving in France and Belgium. Percy was wounded three times and each time returned to the trenches. The youngest brother, Cecil, was killed in the French trenches in 1918. read more

Sausages and legislation

Bismarck is usually credited with the comment about making laws, as with making sausages, being best not seen. But the blog wonders what would be an appropriate analogy for its local Council.

Now the blog tries hard to ignore its local Council as much as possible – but like all elected officials backed by big bureaucracies – the Council persists in failing to ignore the blog and its life in the city. The blog has reported on some of these occasions over the years – on community consultation (a couple of times), the monumentally strange arts policy development (whatever happened to that?) and more recently changes to the parking in its street (see a blog a few weeks ago on community consultation). read more

Getting the balance right between veterans’ welfare and Anzackery

There are growing signs that successive governments’ obsession with the commemoration of Anzac Day and World War One is finally getting some pushback – including from the former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy.

In the last quarterly issue of the Department of Veterans Affairs newsletter –VetAffairs which is distributed to about 220,000 veterans – DVA included an article justifying commemorative spending by citing it as a percentage of the total DVA budget. The fact that it published the article was indicative of some unease and was obviously prompted by various complaints from veterans about the spending. read more

Hyperbole and how it detracts from credibility

Unlike Donald Trump the people who ran the British Empire realised very early that understatement was a more effective communication tactic than hyperbole.

Certainly there was racism and awful exploitation (see Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire – or just watch the YouTube version of his contribution to the Oxford Union debate which preceded the book) but lots of aristocratic mumbling was a good way of hiding massacres, mass famines and contempt for the lesser breed and colonials. Indeed, the Brits did a good job of convincing many people (eg Tony Abbott and the historian Niall Ferguson) of the virtues of Empire. read more

The BCA and the Easter Bunny

Watching its granddaughter search for Easter eggs in the garden the blog suddenly thought how much the Turnbull Government’s and the Business Council of Australia’s arguments for company tax cuts were like belief in the Easter Bunny.

When you are young you believe passionately in the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas but after a while some kid tells you it’s not true, or worse you discover when half awake, that the eggs and presents are actually being left by your parents. The blog began to suspect the truth when it couldn’t understand why it couldn’t leave Coca Cola for Father Christmas and had to leave Passiona – which just happened to be its mother’s favourite soft drink. read more

Fake news and Gresham’s Law

At the recent Adelaide Writers Week an authors’ panel, sponsored by the Copyright Agency and moderated by its current CEO and former blog colleague, Adam Suckling, discussed the books that had changed their lives.

Interestingly all the speakers nominated a variety of books but were unanimous when asked about indigenous influence – nominating Sally Morgan. This may be a generationally-determined answer because when the blog tested the indigenous version of the question on a friend a few days later she nominated Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) who was more influential for her and the blog’s generation. read more

How not to communicate or consult

The City of Port Phillip provides a never-ending series of case studies of how not to undertake communications and/or community consultation.

Regular readers will remember how the Council created a new benchmark in issues management – failing to convince residents that action had to be taken on soil contamination in a local park. In all the blog’s decades in the issues management field it had never experienced a situation in which the usual proponents and opponents positions were completely reversed. read more