No Apology: David Hicks Is An Embarrassment To Australia

FORMER GUANTANAMO BAY inmate David Hicks has had his conviction in the USA for terrorism-related offences overturned — on a technicality — and now demands an apology from the Australian government over the “injustice” he “suffered.” No apology or recompense is owed to this self-confessed jihadist conspirator who sought to fight against Western interests. Simply stated, Hicks remains a traitor and a national embarrassment.

A quick piece from me this morning, with the weekend soon to enable us to explore issues closer to home and in more depth; in any case, where David Hicks is concerned, the moral case isn’t difficult to make succinctly even if legal wrangling in the matter continues for another decade yet, or longer.

And legal wrangling — perhaps, this time, in an attempt to extract money from the Australian government — seems certain to ensue.

Hicks’ conviction over terror-related offences was formally quashed in the US yesterday; the reason — far from any exoneration, or findings of error in judging the wrongdoing of Hicks, or anything else that might absolve him of culpability — amounted to nothing more than a technicality, with the conviction set aside because key material in the case was found to have been filed late.

The same bleeding heart voices who, 15 years ago, bellowed about “bringing Hicks home” and railing against “imperialist” US military forces who held Hicks for years without trial are now already barking into the wind again, with the Communist Party Greens demanding “an apology” from the federal government over its purported failure to bail Hicks out back in the early 2000s, and ALP mouthpiece Bill Shorten likening the episode to “an injustice” and calling on the Abbott government to act: which is tantamount to the same thing.

Either way, acceding to this kind of demand would open the government to hefty claims for compensation that are neither merited nor warranted.

His lawyer, Stephen Kenny, told the ABC — that outrage factory more attuned to indulging the whims of chardonnay drunks than to advancing the causes of national security or observance of the law — that Hicks is “innocent,” and that it will be the end of people referring to him as “a terrorist.”

As Piers Akerman notes in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today, it most certainly won’t.

Whatever the his legal status in the USA and Australia, it remains the case that Hicks trained with proscribed terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda, spent time with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, and was an enthusiastic participant in jihadist campaigns against Western forces that included those of Australia.

Filed out of time, perhaps, he had pleaded guilty to charges of assisting terrorism and to fighting alongside terrorist insurgents in Afghanistan.

As Piers notes, he is on record as repeatedly having boasted of a desire to murder Americans, Jews, and anyone who is not of radical Islamic belief, views backed up with an alarming catalogue of anti-Semitic and anti-Western rhetoric based on the advancement of a fundamentalist and violent terrorist culture.

We could waste more time and space republishing the insidious and treacherous details of Hicks’ reprehensible misdeeds, but there is little point.

His conviction has been quashed — that is the legal side of the matter — but in terms of the terrorist activities he participated in and the atrocities he therefore sought to commit and advance, he not only remains acquitted of none of them but in fact remains an admitted party to these vile acts.

To now suggest he is owed an apology (or worse, some form of compensation) is tasteless, and suggestions to this end by Shorten, Greens leader Christine Milne and others who masquerade as responsible participants in the governance of this country is in itself no less an outrage than the evil deeds Hicks left our shores to participate in.

He is not “innocent” and he remains — in spite of whatever spin some may seek to put upon it — a confessed terrorist.

Many years ago the basis of outrage from the Left centred on the fact that Hicks was held in Guantanamo Bay for years without charge, but in a fraught security environment in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the US and an ongoing threat against Western interests that has proven, with time, to be an enduring one, such an argument is only viable if it is to be accepted that those who are known to seek to destroy the security of ordinary people going about their business ought to be permitted to roam freely to plot and commit their obscene objectives unhindered.

Those who advocate for Hicks now — the likes of Shorten, who holds himself out as a candidate for the Prime Ministership, or Greens leader Milne, whose pious sanctimony apparently finds no grounds in decency or reason — ought to be ashamed of themselves.

David Hicks is a national embarrassment. He is a disgrace to Australia. His freedom should be reward enough for the overturn of his conviction and he should consider himself lucky to have benefited from the technical error that made it possible.

Beyond that, this country doesn’t owe Hicks a thing. He should be told to tell his story walking.


Beazley, Obama Derail Mindless Anti-Abbott Crusade

ANYONE WHO BELIEVES the Labor Party’s story on the failings of Prime Minister Tony Abbott — or whether he appropriately represents Australia whilst abroad — needs to widen their selection of reading material; in the midst of a North American trip the ALP is desperately trying to paint as an incompetent embarrassment, its former leader and the President of the United States have exploded the myths Labor is peddling to voters.

So it is, yet again, that we come to talk about the ALP and what it has been up to; in news that will surprise nobody, Labor’s target is Tony Abbott — personally, as it always is when Labor attacks the man — and as usual, its story doesn’t stack up.

I have been reading an excellent column piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph by Simon Benson that readers can access here; Benson’s leading statement — that the political preoccupation with Tony Abbott’s anticipated failure at everything is getting ridiculous — pretty much sums things up, although this is by no means the beginning and end of Benson’s case.

(As an aside, I would add that nobody could be as bad as Labor and the Communist Party Greens claim Tony Abbott is; anyone as dangerously incompetent and rotten to the core as a human being as their outlandish proclamations suggest would never have been elected to Parliament in the first place, let alone to the Prime Ministership in a landslide as he was. But as I am sometimes wont to do, I digress).

Most people who follow political events will know that Labor has been lambasting Abbott as “a failure” and “an embarrassment” over his trip to Canada and the USA for some time now; what many will have failed to realise is that the insults and name-calling started before the PM flew out of the country.

Benson’s article is, in part, an inventory of Labor’s fatuously dishonest declarations and claims and the realities that obliterate their credibility — a bit like that board game “fact or crap” that was briefly popular with adolescent children several years ago because it legitimised their ability to tell their parents they were talking crap.

The allusion to adolescent children, as readers will see, is well on the mark when it comes to discussion of the ALP and its banal tactics. The fact much of what it has to say is crap is a matter of record, and the Benson article explores the substance of Labor’s claims in beautifully succinct detail.

For instance, Labor had labelled Abbott’s visit to the USA as an “embarrassment and a failure” before he’d even left Europe, where he had been participating in the commemoration of D-Day. How, as Benson rhetorically asks, can a trip be a failure before it even commences?

Or the appallingly dishonest story Labor — aided and abetted by its chums at Fairfax, The Guardian and the ABC — sought to drill into voters that the Prime Minister wasn’t even bothering to keep meetings he had supposedly set with key figures such as IMF head Christine Lagarde and World Bank boss Jim Yong Kim, when in fact Abbott not only met with every individual Labor claimed he would snub, but even attracted friendly teasing from his hosts on account of the sheer volume of work he was determined to pack into the couple of days at his disposal.

On and on has gone the litany of Labor lies about the alleged misdeeds of Abbott, and the seemingly irreparable damage he is said to be inflicting upon Australia’s national interests before an audience of world leaders; Benson chronicles some of them, but his article is by no means exhaustive. The point is that anyone gullible enough to listen to the Labor Party’s jaundiced view of the world and its ways really is being misled.

The fact the ALP makes the most noise, most often and most consistently over subjects it arrogates to itself the exclusive right to claim expertise, does not legitimise the dearth of fact the resultant cacophony contains.

Nor does it explain away or belittle the fact that on this particular trip Abbott has reinforced excellent personal and bilateral relationships, most notably with David Cameron and Stephen Harper, which hardly do Australia’s interests any disservice.

But the most damaging truth of all, perhaps, is the defence made of the Prime Minister and his trip by former Labor leader — now Australia’s ambassador to the United States — Kim Beazley.

Whatever the shortfalls of his politics, nobody could suggest Beazley was not likeable, decent, or gentlemanly — virtues some of his successors in the ALP would do well to emulate.

And Beazley — a student of world affairs whose grasp of the field puts the likes of Bob Carr and Kevin Rudd to shame — is eminently suited to the role Rudd appointed him to in 2010; his stout refusal to turn the position into a partisan political football is a big reason the incoming Abbott government left him in his post when other appointments were truncated, amended, or abandoned.

As Benson notes, it is Beazley who made the case that Abbott was trying to schedule far too much into a two-day visit; it is Beazley who openly conveyed the assessment of his American hosts that they found Abbott, his prodigious work ethic and firm grasp of international affairs “intriguing.” And it is Beazley who — even if inadvertently — shot down one of the domestic Left’s cherished articles of faith that Abbott and Obama “would clash” over global warming.

If the Labor Party collectively (and certain individuals leading the current crusade particularly) had any decency at all, this alone would be enough to shame them into silence. But check out today’s newspapers, and the same discredited attacks are still coming thick and fast from Labor types who not only should know better, but who know what they are talking is crap.

And in a slapdown that must horrify Labor and its errant ally over at the Greens, Barack Obama has specifically acknowledged that in winning office last year, Abbott obtained a mandate to rescind the carbon tax that he, and the US, would respect: so much for wild claims that Abbott would be “isolated” on the issue.

So much, too, for the childish line Tanya Plibersek has been trying to get to fly in the Australian press that on climate change, Abbott would be seen as “Nigel No-Friends” by every other world leader he met; for someone as intelligent as Plibersek and who really ought to have more sense, her words should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

Benson is right, and his point echoes my own — that it is now beyond a joke the extent to which Abbott is no good at everything, will fail at everything, and will ruin everything. This kind of unthinking, unreasoning unilateralism when the question of political strategy is considered reeks of extremism. It certainly carries no moral authority.

Soon (and I say this only half in jest) we’re going to have reports from Labor on whether the PM farts in question time, or on whether or not Abbott passes the salt when he’s asked for it in the parliamentary dining room. The obsession is becoming that trivial. Such an obsession, by those who pretend to suitability to govern no less, is bloody dangerous. And this alone should give those who are receptive to the stifling, unceasing abuse of Abbott some pause for thought at the very least.

My point in sharing this article is that at some point, that portion of the electorate apparently held in the thrall of a narrative that the most evil specimen in the country is also the Prime Minister of Australia  is likely to awaken from the trance.

Anyone reporting current events (Fairfax…Guardian…ABC…all take note) has an obligation to report fact, not partisan smears not underpinned by so much as an atom of truth.

All of us beholden to political convictions are going to adhere to our beliefs; there is nothing wrong with that.

But the primary difference between a column such as mine and a mainstream media outlet is that in my case, it is openly presented as a conservative-inclined comment and discussion forum. In the case of the Fairfax press, the ABC, The Guardian and other entities like them, these organisations claim to be upholders of ruthlessly impartial standards of fearlessly honest journalism.

It is time they started to behave like it rather than leading a national cheer squad for the Labor Party and the Greens.

In the final analysis, people are free to believe as they choose, and more topically, to read whatever they like, and if a preferred perspective on reality sees some opt to listen to what is patently dishonest and almost criminally negligent in terms of journalistic standards then nobody is going to force them to see reason.

But for those who are entrusted with the carriage of the message, it’s about time those who waffle about “editorial integrity” and the rest of the rubbish their publications nonetheless hide behind as they disseminate the propaganda of the Left woke up to themselves.

Ultimately, the bullshit being spouted about Abbott is as much an insult to the countries and leaders who are hosting him as it is to Abbott himself, but never mind about that.

The objective evidence, gleaned from those who are actually there, is that Abbott is making an excellent fist of complex subjects that are of critical importance not just to Australia’s best interests, but to our friends, allies and trade partners across the globe.

Maybe the ALP really does think it could do better. Behaving like a bunch of spoilt teenage brats is no way to convince anyone, although I concede the fact Labor’s tantrums are taken seriously at all is some sort of achievement, however dubious that might be.



Labor Pain: Bolt Only Half-Right On ALP Affliction

THE ASSERTION by Herald Sun writer Andrew Bolt — that policy, not the unions, lies the root of the Labor Party’s precarious standing as a viable political entity — is only half-right; only a fool would suggest (and Bolt, of course, doesn’t) that ALP policy is anything other than the stuff served up by an outfit totally divorced from community expectation and reality, but the fingerprints of the union movement lie all over the problem at its genesis.

Back in 2005 — fresh from a thumping fourth election win, and armed with a majority in the Senate — the Howard government introduced what was presented at the time as “the final objective of John Howard’s 30-year career in politics” in the form of a suite of laws designed to increase flexibility in the labour market and place curbs on the degree of intrusion unions were able to make into workplaces. That package of legislation, of course, was WorkChoices.

Labor, then in opposition and led by the avuncular Kim Beazley, was flummoxed; it was an outrage, Labor said, an attack on the party’s core constituency, and introduced without a mandate. Yet despite the noise and outrage emanating from the ALP the best it could mostly do was to draw close to Howard in reputable opinion polling: Howard, it seemed, would probably get away with it.

Watching in the wings was the leadership of the union movement, which collectively took a deep breath, steeled itself, and flung itself into battle; a $13 million advertising and media campaign — “Your Rights At Work” — was prosecuted with deadly precision (if not, perhaps, particularly honestly) and Labor zoomed ahead of the Coalition in the polls.

To ensure its advantage was pressed home, Beazley was dumped: the unions desperately wanted Julia Gillard to take on the leadership, and the contest that saw Beazley replaced certainly set her up for “next time,” emerging as she did with the deputy leadership and a bloc of votes without which Beazley would probably have survived. But the next best thing was the driven, distastefully ambitious Kevin Rudd, who had set himself up carefully as an electable face the party could turn to. Rudd, as we all know, went on to become the giant slayer who beat John Howard.

I begin thus because I have read Andrew Bolt’s column in the Daily Telegraph today and I think he is only half-right in the case he presents; certainly, Labor’s policies — and they have cost that party very dearly in the past couple of years — belong somewhere between cuckoo-land and some God-forsaken socialist utopia. But I contend they are very much consequential to the main problem, rather than the cause of it.

The episode over WorkChoices, to me, represented the point at which the unions finally completed their takeover of the political operation of the ALP; we’ve spoken about this at great length during the lifespan of this column, and whilst the ALP and the unions have always been entwined — after all, the ALP is the political wing of the union movement, and one grew from the other — the past ten years have seen Labor “evolve” into a “union party” rather than the Left-of-Centre party affiliated to and significantly influenced by the unions that it mostly had been.

To complete the WorkChoices analogy, the Fair Work Act — and all its legislative and organisational instruments — might as well have been written over at Trades Hall in Carlton; this regime, along with the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, were tantamount to handing the union movement a blank cheque.

Don’t get me wrong: there is very, very little in Bolt’s column today that I disagree with. He is right to describe Labor policy as it stands today as “lunatic,” and his roll call of the party’s recent (and deserved) electoral humiliations, the carbon tax and its lethal politics, the culpable and almost criminal dereliction of its asylum seeker policy and the like are potent symbols of a once-mighty political party that has not only lost its way, but strayed into the realm of a prescriptive nanny-state that few Australians have either the engagement with nor the inclination to support.

But there are two large disagreements I take with Bolt’s arguments.

The first, of course, is their central premise: that Labor policy, rather than the unions, is the source of the party’s woes.

It can’t be any clearer that union control of the ALP is so endemic that such an assertion simply fails to withstand scrutiny: led by a former unionist, who replaced another leader with roots deep in the union movement, Labor’s MPs are disproportionately skewed toward a demographic that left school, went to university, and worked either for another MP or for a union before entering Parliament.

Those who didn’t work for a union directly are nonetheless beholden to the movement indirectly by virtue of ALP preselection processes, which remain largely the preserve of union warlords despite present fashionable rhetoric about “democratising” the ALP, and which are carved up and allocated among factions controlled by union interests well before names are allocated to individual seats or electorates.

Labor’s industrial policies (again, courtesy of the union effort on WorkChoices) are a virtual no-go zone for anyone in the party who might seek to alter their pro-union intent: such is the debt Labor owes the unions for its anti-WorkChoices campaign a decade ago.

And Shorten’s reticence to fall into line with the Royal Commission into the union movement isn’t simply a manifestation of his directionless methods in seeking to offer all things to all people; he simply can’t do otherwise. He is too beholden to the unions himself, and I can’t even say he’s beholden to “union masters” because as the former head of the AWU and a deeply connected union figure himself, he is one of those masters.

Certainly, one may follow the other — Labor’s policies may well be the partial result of stacking out the deck with union hacks and ceding control of the party to others in the union realm. But the policies are very much consequential, not causative.

The other “disagreement” I have with Bolt isn’t so much a disagreement per se as an addendum: Bolt is right that Labor seeks scapegoats; it looks everywhere except where it should, of course, with any meaningful assessment of the control the unions wield over it sacrosanct despite some “smart” formulations otherwise expressed (such as “opening” the ALP to non-union members, despite the unions continuing to control 50% of the vote at party conferences — a reality nobody in the ALP seems to have the stomach to confront).

The additional scapegoat Bolt merely alludes to in the most peripheral sense is the one it should be taking full aim at alongside the unions: the Communist Party of Australia Greens, whose jaundiced and cynical socialist view of the world — wrapped in the innocuous cloak of tree-hugging environmentalism — finishes for the Labor disease what the union movement starts.

Labor’s carbon tax, its asylum seeker policy, its class warfare and its anti-business, anti-family, anti-wealth inclinations all pander to varying degrees to the insidious scourge that is the Greens, to which a substantial portion of the Labor Left has decamped and on which the ALP is increasingly dependent on preferences simply to survive as a viable political entity.

In other words, rather than Labor developing a platform of its own in the best interests of the community at large as it sees it, the ALP pays its thirty pieces of silver in exchange for whatever favour or service or benefit it thinks it can extract on its historic mission to get Labor bums into green ministerial leather, as unencumbered as possible by any responsibility to deliver anything that most people actually want, or support, or — God forbid — might have voted for.

The same can be said of its callous disregard for anything people might have voted against, which is perhaps peculiar given the role WorkChoices played in its return to government in the first place in 2007.

This is the behaviour of political prostitution, not political principle, and in one sense the description at all of its bastard fruits as “policy” is an affront to the otherwise meaningful, considered process of developing sensible public policy crafted in the aim of advancing the public interest.

Even if that policy is called WorkChoices.



Desperate Measures: Former Labor Minister Gary Johns Sums Up ALP Plight

FORMER Keating government minister Gary Johns published a fascinating article in today’s issue of The Australian; to me, he neatly sums up the conundrum of leadership currently bedevilling the federal ALP, and makes a compelling case as to why Kevin Rudd should never again lead Labor.

It’s always an interesting read when Johns writes on politics these days; a Labor MP from 1987 until the Keating government was thrown from office in 1996, his articles more often than not manifest as highly critical of the party he once served, and eloquent in the critiques he makes of its current representatives and their performance in government.

I’m republishing the article — “Rudd Talk Reflects Desperation” — here tonight, and I strongly encourage readers to take the time to peruse it; the case Johns makes is a compelling one, and ought to give any serving Labor MP who reads it pause for thought.

One point he makes is the same one I have outlined in this column a number of times now: that were Kevin Rudd — restored to the Labor leadership, and thus as Prime Minister — to lead the ALP to an (extremely unlikely) election win this year, his colleagues would simply knife him again in the immediate aftermath.

“Such is (federal Labor’s) contempt for the man,” Johns writes.

Interestingly, it’s clear from the piece that Johns wrote it after the landslide Liberal win in Western Australia on Saturday, but prior to Newspoll and its alleged “bounce” for Gillard and her government appearing in The Australian yesterday.

Either way, the criticisms here are still valid — irrespective of whether a single poll shows the Labor position as a resounding defeat rather than an annihilation.

The article touches on many of the recurring themes that underpin the malaise the ALP finds itself in, six months from an election: leadership, immigration policy, character and trust all feed into Johns’ case, as does an assessment of some of the “leaders” who have served Labor federally: some well, some not so well.

As I said at the outset, the intention is simply to share another perspective on a subject we have spoken about in this forum several times; I do strongly suggest you click the link provided above.

And in closing tonight, I leave readers simply with the closing paragraph from the Johns article: to whet the appetite, so to speak.

“Labor cannot move forward with Gillard and cannot go back to Rudd. It has only one decent option. Explain to the electorate that it has lost its way, that it cannot, in good conscience, deliver a credible May budget, and call an election forthwith.”

I’ll see you all again tomorrow night.