Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Pull out of jet deal, Govt urged

Pull out of jet deal, Govt urged

A Liberal backbencher says the Super Hornet can not compete with Russian-built fighters being deployed in Asia.

A Liberal MP says party leader Brendan Nelson made the wrong decision in his previous role as defence minister when he ordered 24 Super Hornet jet fighters for the RAAF.

Western Australian backbencher Dr Dennis Jensen, a former defence research scientist, says the Rudd Labor Government should try to get out of the $6.6 billion deal.

Dr Jensen told the National Interest program on ABC Radio National that the Super Hornet can not compete with Russian-built fighters being deployed in Asia.

"There've been numerous comparative analyses that have been conducted overseas and where ever the Super Hornet's been in the competition it's lost," Dr Jensen said.

"The problem with the Hornet is it is slow, it is sluggish in acceleration and its payload range capability is limited.

"And as such the threats that are emerging in the region will effectively fly rings around it."

Dr Jensen says the jet's manufacturer Boeing did a very good sales job on Dr Nelson when he was minister.

"I've seen another slide presentation that Boeing gives and it looks very, very convincing," he said.

Axe set to fall on fighter jets

Tom Allard National Security Editor FAIRFAX| December 31, 2007

The $6.6 billion purchase of 24 Super hornets as a stop-gap fighter jet is to be jettisoned by the Federal Government as it reviews all aspects of the program to give Australia a critical edge in regional air combat capability.

The Sydney Morning Herald understands that Department of Defence planners have been asked to present an analysis on all the fighter jet options to the Federal Government and how they stack up against likely adversaries, the first time such a study has been done for at least five years.

All projects in the $30 billion program will be scrutinised "with fresh eyes". That includes what aircraft are to be bought, how many, when and at what price. "Absolutely everything is on the table," a Government source said.

Even if contracts have been signed, as is the case with the Super Hornets, the Government is prepared to break them if the case is compelling. This is a shift from previous Labor thinking.

The air combat program is supposed to deliver air superiority in the region, long-regarded as fundamental to Australia's strategic doctrine given its large land mass and isolation.

The coming year is looming as a critical one. A final decision must be made on the centrepiece of the air-combat project - a $15 billion outlay on up to 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, a high-stealth aircraft yet to be developed, has been troubled by delays and is at risk of big cost blow-outs.

The prevailing view in the Government is that it makes sense for the entire air combat force structure to be re-examined at the same time. The Defence White Paper - outlining the nation's long-term strategic priorities and being developed next year -is also likely to guide the review.

Writing in his local newspaper last week, the Minister for Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon, made clear his concerns with the Super Hornets, a purchase pushed through with great haste by his predecessor, Brendan Nelson, who is now the Opposition Leader.

"Few decisions of the Howard government were more controversial than its commitment to spend more than $6 billion on 24 Super Hornets without proper due process or capability justification," he wrote in The Newcastle Herald.

Dr Nelson sold the Super Hornet option to cabinet's National Security Committee this year without the co-operation of defence chiefs or undertaking the long due diligence and comparative analysis that usually precedes acquisitions of such scale and expense.

Before his pitch, RAAF planners had said an interim jet was not required. Defence analysts say it is the wrong aircraft anyway, lacking stealth and power.

The Herald understands that the Super Hornet contract - like those for all foreign military sales - can be abandoned, at a cost of about $300 million. If it is not dumped the Government may seek to renegotiate its terms, or buy fewer aircraft.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Up to 100 aircraft at $15 billion. Delivery from 2014.

F/A-18 Super Hornets 24 aircraft at $6.6 billion. Interim fighter. Delivery from 2009.

Wedgetail Six command and control aircraft at $3.25 billion. At least two years late. Delivery from 2009.

F/A-18 Hornets Upgrade to existing fleet of "Classic" Hornets at $3.1 billion. Completed by 2010.

Airborne refuellers Five aircraft at $2 billion.

Weapons programs About $500 million on new missiles and bombs. Deployed in 2010.

Conservative warriors unite to sink Turnbull

Friday, 30 November 2007

Greg Barns writes:

The demise of Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership ambitions was in part revenge by those Liberals who have always treated the former Republican leader with, shall we charitably say, suspicion. Make no mistake, right wing warriors such as Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott have never warmed to Turnbull. They despised him for his role in pushing an Australian republic during the 1990s.

Abbott, let's remember, was Turnbull’s opponent in that debate and Minchin never made any secret of his contempt for the idea of ridding Australia of the British monarchy. Both men were the hardest-working of Howard government ministers in advising and spruiking for the monarchist campaign in the 1999 Referendum.

Over the past five years, individuals like Minchin and Abbott and their supporters have had to endure the rise and rise of Malcolm. From the time Malcolm Turnbull made his peace with John Howard in 2001, the right has quietly seethed as their former nemesis rose rapidly through the ranks to become Environment Minister in the Howard government.

But yesterday the empire struck back. Turnbull’s courageous and morally correct decision to announce this week that, if he were Liberal Leader, the Party would join with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a formal Apology to Indigenous Australians for past wrongs sent Minchin and Abbott and the conservatives in the Tory party into a frenzy. The work that John Howard had done over the past decade in reshaping the Liberal Party into an unambiguously capital C conservative force in Australian politics could be brought undone by a man of Turnbull’s intellectual prowess and marketability to the electorate.

Minchin and Abbott had their minions out yesterday castigating Turnbull in no uncertain terms and making the point that they don’t think he will ever be suitable to lead the Liberals. He’s too slick, too Sydney eastern suburbs, too liberal, makes announcements without consulting his colleagues, not the man for us – all this and more from Howard’s self-styled Praetorian Guard.

Turnbull is his own man. Strong-willed and fiercely independent – not a man to be sat upon by factional heavies or party number crunchers like Minchin.

Brendan Nelson on the other hand is shallow, has swung to the Right simply because it is opportune to do so, and is a leader of whom Minchin and Abbott approve. Nelson believes in only one thing – himself. His career is a testament to that fact. He is a Faustian character.

And the forces of darkness – those who don’t seem to understand that the Liberal Party, if it is to regain office, must embrace the centre – not only triumphed in defeating Turnbull, they snared the Senate leadership as well. Nick Minchin is hanging around as leader for the Liberals in the Senate, and now he has a fellow right wing bovver boy in Eric Abetz as his Deputy.

Abetz got off to a dreadful start yesterday. He was surely smoking something when he said yesterday that Labor, when it has been in government, treats the Senate with contempt, and rams through legislation! Earth to Eric – remember your own government’s emasculation of Senate committees the moment it got control of that institution after the 2004 election?

The Liberal Party had a chance yesterday to make a break with the past and become, like its counterparts in the UK under David Cameron’s leadership today, a more tolerant and compassionate party. But instead they opted for more of the same. The Party has learnt nothing since Saturday. That’s what’s wrong with the Liberal Party.

Greg Barns is the author of What’s Wrong with the Liberal Party? (2003) and was disendorsed, because of his public criticism of the Howard government’s asylum seeker policies, by Senator Abetz and his colleagues in the Tasmanian Liberal Party in 2002.

Nelson secures leadership with backroom deal with right wing Libs

Backroom deal seals Nelson bid

November 30, 2007

IF POLITICS offers redemption, Brendan Nelson got more than a whiff of it yesterday, thanks to a backroom deal with MPs from the one state that bucked the vote-slide to Labor at the weekend, Western Australia.

A few years ago, Dr Nelson told an interviewer that if he had known he was going to be a politician, he would have done a lot of things in his life differently, because he'd made a lot of mistakes.

Liberal Party powerbrokers allowed him to put those mistakes to one side yesterday. The party, of course, is desperate and on its knees after losing in a single weekend a federal election, a prime minister and a treasurer it thought would become its next leader.

But who might have thought it would elect as its future a thrice-married man who was considered by his friends a Labor man for 20 years, and who was a signed-up Labor Party member from 1988 until 1992 — just four years before he entered Parliament as a Liberal?

A group who wanted to deny multimillionaire Sydneysider Malcolm Turnbull, it turns out. According to reliable sources, right-wing Senate leader Nick Minchin was crucial to brokering a last-minute deal that swung six crucial West Australian votes from Mr Turnbull to Dr Nelson.

The reasons were complex, but one stood out. Mr Minchin and those who switched could not abide Mr Turnbull's declaration early this week that John Howard should have said sorry to indigenous Australia.

The arrangement guaranteed not only that the leadership went to Dr Nelson, but the deputy leadership to West Australian Julie Bishop. Essentially, Ms Bishop was offered strong support for her tilt at the deputy leadership on the understanding that she would swing her vote, and that of five West Australian colleagues, to Dr Nelson. It would not only mean defeat for Mr Turnbull, but for Victorian deputy leader candidate and former federal Liberal Party director Andrew Robb.

The whispered deal, however, may have handed Dr Nelson a poisoned chalice.

In a party with a long tradition of leadership instability in opposition — the 1980s, for example, proved a lost decade as Andrew Peacock and John Howard fought over the Liberal leadership — Dr Nelson already has guaranteed rivals. Tony Abbott said only two days ago he would not rule out future challenges for the leadership, and Malcolm Turnbull clearly did not enter politics to play second fiddle for too long. He was believed to have been furious last night after learning of the manoeuvring that blew his leadership chances away.

Dr Nelson waved aside questions about how he would avoid leadership instability yesterday, saying that we would just have to watch.

Dr Nelson, former federal president of the Australian Medical Association and a minister of both education and defence in the Howard government, won the Liberal leadership from Mr Turnbull by just three votes in the party room yesterday, 45-42.

Many observers had tipped that Mr Turnbull would be chosen ahead of Dr Nelson, partly because Mr Turnbull had played out his campaign publicly.

In fact, Dr Nelson appears to have got the upper hand by staying in the shadows and quietly garnering the support of such heavyweights as Senator Minchin.

One hint that he was confident of winning was his studied behaviour on Wednesday.

Outside the executive wing of Canberra's Parliament House, Tony Abbott had just finished telling the gathered media that he was withdrawing as a leadership candidate because he did not have the numbers. Those few votes he did have, it seemed plain, would flow to Dr Nelson rather than the new boy on the block, Mr Abbott's ideological opposite, Mr Turnbull.

A short time later, word went out that Dr Nelson was on his way to Parliament House. Camera crews gathered and, sure enough, he sauntered by, declining to utter a word but smiling for the cameras.

Often judged by critics as little more than a show pony, Dr Nelson had adopted a new persona — the coy pussycat, who perhaps knew he had got the cream.

Neither candidate had the opportunity to pitch his wares to colleagues in the party room. Liberal rules require candidates to "stand in their place" silently until the ballot is complete. Thus, Dr Nelson had won the leadership, and Mr Turnbull had lost it, before they entered the ground-floor room at Parliament House.

Mr Turnbull had presented himself in media interviews as new, energetic and open-minded, prepared to say "sorry" to indigenous Australians and to offer a socially inclusive face to the electorate.

According to a number of Liberal MPs who spoke to The Age yesterday, Mr Turnbull's very public willingness to spruik his strengths was his greatest weakness when it came to the vote.

"He was seen to believe vociferously in things like the republic and he made this unilateral comment about saying sorry — things that a lot of us had opposed over the years," one Liberal said. "And he made these sort of policy statements through the media. We felt that if this was the way he would operate, we weren't ready for him." Others said that some backbenchers, wearied of toeing the Howard line for years, felt they could not abide another powerful and prescriptive personality.

Yet others compared Dr Nelson's 12 years in Parliament to Mr Turnbull's three. "We remembered the experience of Dr John Hewson who was in parliament for only a short time before he became leader, then in short order lost an election," a Liberal who voted for Dr Nelson said.

Another factor that played against Mr Turnbull, according to some sources, was the fact that although he was considered clever, articulate and confident, he was identified as a rich Sydneysider — "a bit too glitzy and slick, and a small 'l' liberal".

Dr Nelson, on the other hand, was a "small 'c' conservative", whose roots were humble and far from Sydney.

Dr Nelson — in a somewhat Kevin Ruddesque manner — used that very story to declare to the media yesterday his journey to Liberal leader was "unorthodox".

"My dad was a Labor man, and my family by and large was a Labor family," he said.

"In the streets of Launceston where we grew up, my father said to me, 'Son, in the absence of family influence, the only way that you're ever going to be a better person and live in a more confident Australia is if you work and study as hard as you can at school'."

And so, through school and university in Adelaide he grew to become a medical doctor, the head of the AMA and finally, a cabinet minister.

As he stood before the media for a "significant day in the history of the Liberal Party", he noted that it was "important for us to stand true to what we believe".

It is a theme he has repeated for years. Back in 1993, though, he was captured by television cameras just days before the election shouting at a crowd that "I have never voted Liberal in my life".

Questions about his character arose when he later told interviewers and a Liberal pre-selection panel that he, in fact, voted Liberal during the years he belonged to the Labor Party.

Now, at his crowning moment of redemption, the waters around him are poisoned once again. So much for party renewal.

Saturday, November 03, 2007



Howard the grey man who mindset sits in 1950ies Australia has been defeated as PM and as MP for Bennelong. After just a few weeks since his election loss he already is an irrelevance.

His time in office however has left lasting damage to Australia his laws undermining public ownership, higher education, the universal health system and the rights of Working Australians amongst many others will take a long time to fix.


Please feel free to add comment on any article here or send a note to the Editor William Wallace at

Australian Politics - a blog: Madness, The Monk & The Rock Star

Australian Politics - a blog: Madness, The Monk & The Rock Star

Howards fall from grace in the eyes of many Australians is not because of the economy but its about his governments worn out style and his and a number of his ministers such as Tony (Mad Monk) Abbott that that they are reacting too and will be voting on!

Updates right throughout the election campaign on Howards struggle both to hold his seat of Bennelong and to crawl back into Government on the blog


Monday, October 01, 2007

AEC Must Reopen Exclusive Brethren Investigation

Anthony Albanese Doorstop Interview

Parliament House - 22nd August 2007 ALP Website

ALBANESE: The Prime Minister has had yet another secret meeting with the Exclusive Brethren sect. This is an organisation that is currently under investigation for donating $370,000 for the Liberal Party election campaigning in 2004.

In particular, this group campaigned in the electorate of Bennelong. They took out full page advertisements in the local paper ‘The Weekly Times’. The address used for the authoriser of those ads is actually one of the Exclusive Brethren schools.

Exclusive Brethren schools currently receive some $42 million in Federal Government recurrent funding. That’s without funding for capital works and other programs conducted by the Federal Government.

It is of real concern that this sect can get a meeting with the Prime Minister of Australia without notice and with no agenda. We are particularly concerned to find out whether the current election campaign coming up later this year was discussed.

The Exclusive Brethren are a sect that is out of touch with mainstream Australian family values. Exclusive Brethren don’t believe in voting but do believe in interfering in election campaigns. They have a history of not only covert funding, but also of engaging in personal attacks and smears against non extreme right wing conservative candidates. It’s a real concern that the Prime Minister is continuing to have this direct association with the Exclusive Brethren sect and that it only comes to light because of leaks around this meeting.

The people engaged in the meeting include Mark Mackenzie as a company adviser and funder of some of these advertisements. Stephen Hales was there, he’s the brother of Bruce Hales the leader of the Exclusive Brethren sect, who is known as the “Elect Vessel” and also as the “Minister of the Lord in the Recovery”. We know that Exclusive Brethren engaged in electoral advertising not just in the electorate of Bennelong, but also in Victoria and South Australia.

It’s a real concern that the Government has amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act to ensure that media outlets don’t need to file media returns at future elections because in some of those returns they indicated that these advertisements took place at the behest of the Liberal Party.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: We’re talking about $370,000 being spent on an election campaign that we know of. The group that doesn’t believe in voting but believes it has the right to interfere in election campaigns. We know that John Howard is under real pressure in the electorate of Bennelong due to the campaign of Maxine McKew. It would be very interesting to see whether the Exclusive Brethren, as a result of this meeting, are once again engaged in spending tens of thousands of dollars trying to influence voters in the lead up to that campaign.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: Here in NSW we’ve seen Alex Hawke preselected for the electorate of Mitchell. We’ve seen Michael Towke preselected for the electorate of Cook. We’ve seen a complete assault on the NSW Liberal Party both in terms of state preselections and federal preselections. At the last round we saw Senator John Tierney replaced by Connie Fierravanti-Wells. We’ve seen the rise of extreme right wing views within the Liberal Party centred around David Clarke and people who are prepared to do anything to destroy people who disagree with them even within the Liberal Party, just ask John Brogden.

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

ALBANESE: I think Australians would be worried that there’s this secretive sect that engages in practices which I regard as being anti Australian and anti Family. That doesn’t vote in elections, yet which donates hundreds of thousands of dollars in favour of Liberal candidates and specifically in favour of the Prime Minister during election campaigns.

I know that when it comes to the Prime Minister there's a lot of very serious business people around this nation as well as serious community organisations who can’t just drop in and get access with to the Prime Minister, at no notice and with no agenda. The idea that the Prime Minister has meetings with organisations let alone a sect such as this without an agenda being approved in advance is quite frankly beyond belief, not credible. As is the idea that John Howard and the Liberal Party didn’t know about the Exclusive Brethren campaign in the 2004 election.

It is important that John Howard and the Liberal Party come clean about exactly what the Exclusive Brethren have in store for this 2007 campaign. We want to see a genuine democratic vote between Maxine McKew, who we regard as an outstanding candidate in Bennelong, and an increasingly a desperate Prime Minister, who is prepared to associate with sect organisations such as the Exclusive Brethren in order to hold on to his seat.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Liberal Party Historian Ian Hancock on the far right takeover of the Liberal Party in NSW

A fight against the Right

Ian Hancock | September 22, 2007 The Australian

IN his new book, Ian Hancock traces early influences in the fractious NSW division of the Liberal Party.

Conservatives were angered by what they saw as challenges to the social and moral order represented by feminists, the homosexual lobby, and the pornography industry.

One individual, destined to be the most controversial figure in the Liberal Party's NSW division by the late 1970s, was coming under notice in the party's then state headquarters in Ash Street, Sydney.

Lyenko Urbanchich, a Slovene nationalist and fervent anti-communist, was born in 1922 in Serbia, and was attending high school when German and Italian forces invaded Yugoslavia in April 1941. After a stint in the Royal Yugoslav Army, Urbanchich returned to Italian-occupied Slovenia when organised resistance to the invaders ceased.

Twice arrested by the Italians after distributing anti-communist and pro-monarchist leaflets, he resumed his education but, following the Italian capitulation in September 1943, Urbanchich joined the Slovene Domobranstvo (Home Guard). The Home Guard was accused during and after the war of collaborating with the Nazis, though others would claim that its function was to oppose the communist partisans and to promote underground anti-Nazi objectives.

Urbanchich himself became a journalist and the anti-Semitic articles published under his name in 1944-45 were later to become a source of embarrassment for the Liberal Party's NSW division.

Arriving in Australia in 1950 as a displaced person, Urbanchich initially worked on the Snowy Mountains scheme, then as a translator, and edited a Slovene newspaper. He attracted the attention of ASIO when, along with his friend Vladimir Menart, he founded the Yugoslav Freedom Fighters Movement in the early 1960s. An ASIO officer reported on June 11, 1962, that he was "generally regarded as unpopular among Yugoslavs as a result of the part he played during the war working with the Germans". The anti-communists in the Yugoslav community were said to have viewed him unfavourably because of a break and enter he allegedly orchestrated at a social club, an action that upset relations within the broader Yugoslav community and drew unwanted police attention.

Clearly, ASIO had an ambivalent attitude towards Urbanchich. In May 1971 an officer had a "friendly chat" with him because of concerns about the communist leanings of the Slovenian Association. At the same time it was noted that care would need to be taken in dealing with him "because of his known ultra-right-wing views".

A member of the Liberal Party, Urbanchich became president in the mid-'60s of the 50 Club, so-named because it was located at 50 Victoria St, Kings Cross. Urbanchich also became president of the newly established Kings Cross branch of the Liberal Party. ASIO, which later described the 50 Club as "anti-Semitic and extremely right wing", warned the Liberals on two occasions "to edge him (Urbanchich) out from holding office in the Kings Cross branch because he can seriously damage the party".

The party's NSW general secretary John Carrick acted quickly. On June 3, 1966, he informed Urbanchich that the party state executive had ruled that no new branches could be formed before a redistribution was complete unless the executive gave its approval which, at the moment, it was not prepared to do. People keen to be involved in the Liberal Party could join existing branches, subject to the branches admitting them.

Carrick refused to accept a cheque on behalf of 21 new members on the basis of another state executive ruling that persons desiring to join a branch should do so near their place of residence. The majority of the 21 applying for membership had no residential connections with Kings Cross.

Carrick advised his field staff not to permit branches to be formed that "were substantially or wholly migrant in character". He accepted that the emerging Right was not homogeneous. It embraced everyone from "extreme Tories to anti-Semitics" and had its "leavening of ratbags". What worried him was that right-wing Liberals, including many Young Liberals, were disrupting anti-Vietnam rallies and engaging in what the general secretary considered to be "moronic shouting and sloganising". Unless the party dealt immediately with this phenomenon, the Labor Party would exploit attempts by extremists to associate with the Liberal Party and would turn the growing violence and emotionalism against it.

Carrick had raised this matter in Canberra, where the party's federal executive called on Liberals not to engage in counter-demonstrations, placard waving or attempted takeovers of opponents' meetings.

An organisation called the Australian Action Co-ordinating Centre seemed to be uppermost in Carrick's mind. It was formed at the house of state MP Michael Darby in Balgowlah in Sydney in March 1966 at a meeting attended by a reliable ASIO contact. He reported that, among those present, were three members of the Democratic Labor Party, Urbanchich, Charles Huxtable of the Defend Australia League, members of the Czech and Croatian communities, members of the Wakehurst, Killara and Double Bay Young Liberals and an unnamed man ASIO had already decided was "a complete fanatic and almost certifiable".

WHILE they were trying to work out how to confront state Labor leader Neville Wran (premier from 1976) in the mid-'70s, the leading NSW Liberals were also turning their attention to what they considered to be a very disturbing development: the re-emergence of the Right within the party. Thwarted by Carrick and the state executive in 1966-67, the conservatives continued to meet at a hamburger cafe near Circular Quay and, over time, developed different strategies for advancing the cause. Largely bypassing the blue-ribbon Liberal electorates, they joined or formed branches in the inner west and southwest of Sydney. Because it required just 10 members to form a branch, the conservatives could build a voting base among the small branches, which had equal voting rights with those located on the north shore and in the eastern suburbs. They could also take advantage of Jim Carlton's tolerant attitude as the new general secretary, believing that he was more concerned with managing the division than trying to influence its ideological direction. Carrick and Carlton both went on to become senators and federal ministers.

The cause itself was undergoing some change. While anti-communism remained a common denominator, new issues entered the conservative agenda, corresponding with the social and cultural changes from the late '60s and the advent of the Whitlam government in 1972.

Conservatives were angered by what they saw as challenges to the social and moral order represented by feminists, the homosexual lobby and the pornography industry. They feared and opposed the downgrading of the family and family values, the relaxation of censorship and the greater use of illicit drugs. The Whitlam government became the object of special loathing, being seen as one of the principal instruments for undermining traditional values, for promoting socialism and republicanism, and for recognising Soviet authority over the Baltic states.

But the enemy within was just as despicable as the one without. Indeed, the defeat of Whitlamism in 1975 had the important effect of focusing conservative resentment on the so-called trendies in the Liberal Party who, it was argued, differed only from the Labor Party -- if at all -- over the pace of destructive change.

The Young Liberals were considered to be a veritable nest of traitors to "true Liberalism", aided and abetted by the "old guard" that controlled the state executive.

The conservative case against their fellow Liberals in the mid-'70s rested on two firm planks: the abandonment of moral values and the failure to promote free enterprise. As a result, the most striking characteristics of the Right in the mid-'70s reportedly were its "pristine, ideological nature" and its tendency to "seek, or adhere to, all-embracing world views", according to Andrew Hamilton in an article in 1979.

Although not monolithic in composition or in emphasis, and although it could certainly engage in power plays, the Right had, as a consequence of its ideological resoluteness, one great advantage over its opponents in the party: a clear and firm understanding of where it stood. By contrast, the Right's strongest party opponents -- the small-l liberals -- were said to be generally "more concerned with updating matters, revamping the party image or at best applying intuitively held principles of liberalism in fresh ways in new circumstances".

The core activists on the Right included some of those who were connected with the 50 Club and the anti-communist cause in the mid-'60s. Urbanchich and the Darbys -- Douglas and son Michael (who was recently suspended by the Liberal Party and subsequently joined Fred Nile's Christian Democrats), who were not involved with the 50 Club -- were an ubiquitous presence.

Douglas Darby was the insistent voice in state parliament who, despite having rejoined the Liberal Party after being an independent, had become more disillusioned. He felt there had been "a steady stream of legislative and administrative actions to extend the facilities for the consumption of alcohol, the exercise of gambling, the erosion of the solemnity of Sunday (and the tolerance) of sexual laxity and permissiveness". Further, it was no longer compulsory to hold the Monday morning salute-the-flag ceremony in government schools.

DAVID Clarke (now a Liberal member of the state upper house and regarded as a right powerbroker) had impeccable anti-communist and anti-socialist credentials in the '60s. As a young man he was noticed by the NSW Police special branch attending an anti-Vietnam protest march and rally in Sydney on April 16, 1967. Special branch was then keeping an eye on potential troublemakers wanting to disrupt such gatherings. On August 31, 1970, an ASIO informant sighted Clarke and Urbanchich in a 100-member audience at a meeting of the Australia-Rhodesia Association addressed by the anti-Semitic and racist Eric Butler of the Australian League of Rights.

Clarke developed a special interest in defending the white minority governments of southern Africa that he saw as allies in the world struggle against communism. He was a vice-president of the Australia-Rhodesia Association and believed that Ian Smith's government, elected by 5 per cent of the population, was gradually moving towards majority rule and should have been given time (gradually being the operative word: under the 1970 Rhodesian constitution black majority rule was inconceivable before at least 2070).

Consistent with his views on southern Africa, Clarke, who was also a vice-president of the Australia-Chile Society, saw the Pinochet government in Chile as a bulwark against communism. He infuriated two Liberals who attended a public forum on September 8, 1976, which he addressed as the chairman of the party state council's committee on foreign affairs and trade. Sharing a platform with Bob Holland, a member of the state executive, Clarke said he would rather consult a bus driver than an expert about foreign affairs.

He also reportedly urged the Fraser government to recognise Taiwan, to break off relations with China and to support Rhodesia and South Africa in the fight against communism. (He was speaking not three months after the bloody Soweto uprising and just two weeks before the South Africans forced the Rhodesian government to accept the principle of black majority rule.)

Clarke was a member of the tiny Five Dock, Sydney, branch over which Urbanchich presided and was president of the party's Evans federal electorate council until the seat was abolished in a redistribution before the 1977 federal election. As president, he introduced Joh Bjelke-Petersen, the premier of Queensland, at a dinner in October 1976 and described him as opposing the totalitarianism of the Whitlam government. In an article published in February 1977, he claimed that "most Australians realised what was happening in Sydney's western suburbs, that Australia under Whitlam would soon become a socialist state". In those circumstances "they would no longer own their own homes or, in fact, any property and their hard-won independence could be permanently lost".

Unless Clarke was merely indulging in hyperbole for effect, it was time to call in the bus driver to inject a note of reality.

IF much of the division's history seems repetitive, it is also true that the Liberal Party in NSW has changed in harness with Australian society. In 1945 it was becoming distinctly Keynesian in outlook; now the Keynesians are hard to find. The Liberals of the late '40s girded themselves for the fight against socialism and communism.

By the late '90s the soldier saints were readying themselves to rescue the Liberal Party and NSW from Sodom and Gomorrah. Paradoxically, whereas the party in NSW returned to its ideological roots in the Liberal and Reform Association of 1902 when it embraced smaller government and freer markets, there are those in the party organisation who want to maintain or increase the role of the state to deal with the after-shock of the permissive society.

In 1945 the Liberal Party in NSW was almost a closed shop for Anglo-Scottish Protestants. By 2000 it was enjoying substantial electoral support from Catholics, initially drawn to the Liberals by post-war prosperity, anti-communism and the party's commitment to state aid.

One obvious change in the division is that the house Carrick built, and had built on, has all but disappeared. The edifice did not survive persistent financial stringency, an increasing scepticism about the value of field officers, the computer technology, direct mail, media spin, telemarketing, focus groups and highly sophisticated polling that marginalised the non-professionals in electioneering. The division Carrick inherited in 1948 and expanded in the '50s employed members of the generation who had served Australia in World War II and who, wanting to transfer their sense of service to peacetime, were not bothered about the lack of substantial financial rewards.

John Howard may provide a personal link between Carrick and the modern NSW Liberal Party but, while the division of which he is the favourite son behaves in ways similar to those of the past, it looks markedly different from the one his mentor and patron, Carrick, managed so successfully.

For better or worse, the Liberal Party is probably best seen as primarily an instrument for fighting and winning elections, with many ancillary functions, including the development of better policies and the advancement of individual careers. Does it matter, therefore, that businessmen who think it should work differently are invariably disappointed? The answer is probably no. It does not matter either that the NSW division can never achieve final and permanent solutions for many of its perceived problems or that it keeps returning to the same issues in unconscious fulfilment of George Santayana's famous dictum that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

Equally, there is probably no harm involved in the periodic bouts of introspection, although the intensity of some of them must be stifling and, when corporate jargon and the gobbledygook of "facilitators" are imported, unenlightening.

The real harm lies in the factional warfare that underpins the destructive culture of winner-take-all, has led to a decline of civility, and promoted and protected mediocrity. The real need of the NSW division at the end of the 20th century was not structural reform but an infusion of the spirit of give and take, of an understanding that the political enemy sits opposite and not behind or alongside, of a recognition that the Liberal Party works better when the pragmatists rather than the ideologues are in charge, and of a willingness to turn the broad church into something more than a cliche.

This is an edited extract from The Liberals: A History of the NSW Division of the Liberal Party of Australia 1945-2000, by Ian Hancock, to be published on Monday (The Federation Press, $49.95). Hancock, a historian, is a visiting fellow at the Australian Dictionary of Biography in the research school of social sciences at the Australian National University, and a member of the National Archives Advisory Council. His two most recent books are National and Permanent? The Federal Organisation of the Liberal Party of Australia (2000) and John Gorton: He Did It His Way (2002).

New ABC MD Mark Scott denies he is God’s secret agent

God’s secret agent heads the ABC

Wednesday July 26th 2006

Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Mark Scott, denies that he is “God’s secret agent” as claimed by a Baptist pastor in Marion Maddox’s book, God Under Howard.

He is a proud Christian, and once nearly became a state Liberal Party politician, but was put off by factional dealing.

His very innocuous first media interviews contain only these slightly sinister words:

“That is, are the issues that are covered on ABC news and current affairs … important issues to the Australian people, or are they the important issues to the newsroom?” Mr Scott asked.

Published on the very day of ABC TV’s damaging expose of the NSW Liberal Party’s takeover by extremist right wing Christian groups, it’s worth filing those faintly threatening words away for future reference.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Zealous converts dominate Liberal cult

By Irfan Yusuf Federal Liberal Candidate 20 August 2007

At the last state election, New South Wales voters were caught in a choice between an incompetent Government and an Opposition Coalition in almost complete disarray.

The National Party was able to secure two seats from the ALP, and the Liberal Party secured only one seat from the ALP.

John Howard's frequent refrain that the Liberal Party is a broad church of liberals and conservatives is, in electoral terms, almost axiomatic. Not all Liberal voters are socially conservative. Hence, there is no reason why liberals (with a small "l") cannot have a role in either the organisational or parliamentary wings of the Liberal Party.

Genuine ideological differences do exist between small "l" and big "L" Liberals. However, in theory at least, ideological factions in the Liberal Party should put aside their squabbling when fighting common political opponents.

Sadly, cross-factional co-operation has been almost absent inside the organisational wing of the NSW Liberal Party for a number of reasons.

First, factions have tended to act in the interests of their own ascendancy within the party, even if this means sacrificing the party's chances in general elections. When small "l" liberal John Brogden led the party in the 2003 election he received hardly any assistance from the NSW Young Liberals flying squad who in previous years had proven such an effective campaign force. The NSW Young Liberals had just been taken over by an ultra-conservative faction led by a staffer of a right-wing NSW upper house member with close ties to Opus Dei.

Brogden was not only a young and promising leader with experience across a broad range of portfolios, he was also a popular local member with strong links to local sporting clubs and community organisations. Yet a far-right section of the conservative wing of the Liberal Party organisation saw him as an enemy to be politically eliminated.

When Brogden faced an internal pre-selection for his seat in 1998, I sat on his preselection panel. I was approached by members of the far-right, some of whom attended as observers, and asked to put a difficult question to Brogden. One of those who discussed the preselection question with me said, "This Brogden fellow has to be stopped. Can you imagine him as leader? Or worse still, as premier?"

Second, the NSW Liberal Party has not recovered from a major factional realignment which coincided with John Howard's 1996 landslide victory. The win seemed impossible coming so soon after the unexpected fall of the Fahey government in the 1995 state election. It injected into the conservative wing a large proportion of people who had recently left the small "l" faction known as "the Group". These ideological refugees believed their ambitions were best met by aligning themselves with a faction which was more ideologically aligned with the Prime Minister. And as in religion, so in politics, it is converts who often do the dirtiest work against members of their old congregation.

Third, a winner-takes-all attitude had become entrenched within the organisation. During the late 1990s, the Group dominated but did not have absolute control. Conservative candidates (or at least candidates not aligned with the Group) could win pre-selections and be elected to Parliament. For instance, prior to the 1996 federal election, the conservative wing was able to pre-select a senior staffer from Tony Abbott's office to run in what was then the very marginal seat of Parramatta. When that candidate withdrew, the conservatives were able to preselect another conservative candidate, Ross Cameron.

However, the tables have turned more dramatically than anyone expected. The zealous converts have taken over the now dominant conservative wing. Far from being a broad church, the party now more resembles a cultish congregation where position comes at the price of supporting a narrow set of socially conservative principles.

Factional in-fighting is nothing new in the Liberal Party. Often it is a mixture of personalities and ideology which can often be dealt with by trade-offs and deals. But the current dominating forces in the NSW party are driven almost exclusively by ideology. Hence, one doubts whether a Nick Greiner, a Tony Staley or some other elder statesman could solve the problem.

As the ABC Four Corners program entitled "The Right Stuff" (broadcast in July, 2006) showed, this new right has even gone to the extent of sidelining conservatives who do not agree with its narrow religious and ideological agenda.

Realistically, the only person who has any ability to rein in this far-right cabal is the Prime Minister himself. The situation has become so bad that now the NSW Nationals are openly canvassing the possibility of dissolving the Coalition. One can hardly blame them. Any continued association with a party dominated by such ultra-conservatives is virtually unelectable.

If Howard doesn't act soon, his refrain of the party being a broad church may soon become a contradiction in terms. He might also be confirming criticism Kevin Rudd made in The Sydney Morning Herald on November 9, 1996, when he wrote of a systematic culling of small "l" Liberals or old-fashioned Fraserian conservatives with a social conscience from their ranks.

When that happens, the Liberals might find the only party willing to enter into a Coalition agreement will be Fred Nile's Christian Democrats.

First published in The Canberra Times on March 30, 2007.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why is the PM meeting with people that are under investigation by the AFP?

As this is not the first time the PM has met with this group, then perhaps the AFP should be investigating the PM !

JOHN Howard has held a private meeting with the most senior leaders of the Exclusive Brethren, including a man under investigation by police over his massive spending on the Prime Minister’s 2004 election campaign.
In his parliamentary office two weeks ago, Mr Howard met Sydney pump salesman Mark Mackenzie, whose former company, Willmac, funnelled $370,000 into pro-Howard advertising at the last election.

Willmac’s spending was later investigated by the Australian Electoral Commission’s disclosure arm, and then referred to the Australian Federal Police for a criminal investigation, which is continuing.

They say all they wanted to do was let the PM know they are praying for him and have a bit of a chat about the economy. I can just imagine!

There was also a list of things they didn’t talk about:

A Brethren spokesman said that whilst the meeting had taken place he denied that they had asked for Mr Howard’s help on the police investigation or offered him support for his campaign against Maxine McKew in Bennelong.

..."There was absolutely no dialogue concerning Willmac, just as there was no discussion about … Bennelong,” he said.

“The members of the church primarily assured Prime Minister Howard that they were praying for him, as the leader of the Government, and then went on to discuss the economy. This was a last-minute opportunity that presented itself. There was no agenda or pre-arranged discussion topics, simply an opportunity to greet Prime Minister Howard. These mysterious campaign plans being suggested are wild speculation and the reality is they aren’t there.”

I’m sure we all get these last-minute opportunities presenting themselves during an election campaign to just drop in and let the PM know we are praying for him and not discuss anything else. Try doing it yourself and see just how far you get!

NOTE: Exclusive Breatheren Cult members say ther shun contact with the world. Not just with technology, books, radio and TV, but also other people. They say they do not vote, because voting interferes with God's right to ordain who rules, however they seemingly are not above getting involved in influencing others votes and have started putting a lot of money and time into political campaigns on behalf of members of the extreame right wing of the Liberal Party.

Exclusive Brethren Cult Members working with Howard team in Bennelong

Exclusive Brethren leaders meet PM

22nd August 2007, West Australian

Prime Minister John Howard has met privately with senior members of the Exclusive Brethren religious sect, including a man under police scrutiny for his spending on Mr Howard's 2004 election campaign.

Fairfax on Wednesday reported that two weeks ago in his parliamentary office, Mr Howard met Mark Mackenzie, a Sydney pump salesman whose company, Willmac, channelled $270,000 into advertising for the 2004 election that supported Mr Howard.

The Australian Electoral Commission later investigated the Willmac money, while an Australian Federal Police investigation is continuing, the report said.

The sect's world leader, Bruce D Hales, Hales' brother Stephen and another elder, Warwick John, also attended the August 8 meeting, a sect spokesman told Fairfax.

But the spokesman denied the group asked for Mr Howard's help on the police probe or offered the PM assistance in his battle to retain his Sydney seat, Bennelong, against star Labor candidate Maxine McKew.

The spokesman said the elders assured Mr Howard they were praying for him, and that Willmac and Bennelong were not discussed.

Stephen Hales ran the Brethren's pro-Howard campaign in Bennelong in 2004, the report said.
He authorised some of the group's controversial print ads, using the address of the Brethren school, and helped find Brethren members to campaign for Mr Howard.

A Greens campaigner in Bennelong, Matthew Henderson, told Fairfax he knew members of the sect were working on Mr Howard's campaign.

Greens senator Bob Brown said Mr Howard should reveal the nature of the August 8 talks and his relationship with the Exclusive Brethren.


Sunday, March 11, 2007



Signed up to by John Howard the son of man who belonged to the fascist New Guard who sided with the militarists in Japan right up until war was declared.


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