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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

Henry Thornton News&Views No 25

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

The Aussie, July 9-10, P 11 and P 18, Paul Kelly, ‘Remote Indigenous communities are still racked by violence against women and children.’

‘During April and may this year in the Indigenous community of Wadeye, 400km southwest of Darwin, one man died in a violent encounter, hundreds of people were displaced from their houses and forced into the bush, law and order broke down, homes were destroyed and gang violence prevailed.

‘In the national election that ran simultaneously with daily press conferences involving Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison there were virtually no questions about Wadeye, its violence and the abuses of Indigenous women in remote communities. While there was some local reportage, the crisis did not rate nationality.

‘Our leaders were put under no pressure. There was no national media interest. Incredibly, most Australians knew nothing about these events. How did such a situation arise and what does this reveal about Australia in 2022?’.

Paul Kelly gave a powerful discussion largely of a former minister, The Honourable Mal Brough.

‘Minister Brough ‘quoted Aboriginal elder Galarrwuy Yunupingu telling him: ‘... you don’t get it. Homelands are not traditional living places. They are where families run to get away from the grog and violence. You (the government then) then build houses for them. The grog and violence catch up and the mob moves on and the cycle starts all over again.

‘For Brough, more money in remote housing ‘Will not fix anything’.’

Paul Kelly’s article should provide the Australian government and press with a big warning call, followed by sensible reform.

Greg Sheridan, The Aussie, P 11 and 18, ‘Boris’s shambolic stint as PM a bundle of contradictions’.

Boris of course was the ‘maverick chief’ as Britian’s Prime minister. He was a man who ‘Might be thought of as a man whose lush language exceeded his good sense, who lacked that vital note of sincerity – and therefore lacked the final power to persuade.

(Boris Johnson, quoting Churchill.)

‘Sadly, he leaves his nation in a mess, inflation will soon hit 11 per cent. Britain has among the highest inflation and lowest economic growth of any nation in the G7.

‘As Prime minister, Johnson did several important and good things. One was he used Britain’s freedom from European bureaucracy and constipated decision-making to acquire vaccines for Covid more quickly that any other nation in Europe. He backed Ukraine and opposed Moscow more strongly than any other of the other big, rich nations in Europe. And he was the British father of AUKUS under which Australia is to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines.

Paul Monk, The Aussie, P 20 and P 21. ‘Staring into the Abyss of War.’

‘The West at last is responding to the threat posed by Moscow and Beijing’.

‘China is becoming more and more assertive, has backed Russia’s war, and is harassing and threatening Taiwan while browbeating other countries, including our own.

‘We must not now, having woken up, lose our nerve or abandon our principles. That, however, is easy to say.

As Thucydides long ago recorded the Athenians to the Melians: ‘The strong do what they can, while the weak do what they must.’

‘Finding the means as well as the will to stand up is the pressing task’.

AFR, Editorial&Opinion, P 38, Monday 21 July, ‘Welcome steps towards dialogue with Beijing.’

‘The appointment of a new Chinese ambassador to Australia this year, and the election of the new Albanese government in June have raised the prospect of a thaw in the chilly relations between Australia and China. …

‘After the recent low points, both sides appear to believe that they have made their point and are ready to move on’.

Let’s us hope this is how it will work out!

AFR, P1, Editorial statement: ‘The property squeeze.’

‘The boom is over: Prices are falling, houses are harder to sell, interest rates are on the rise. Buy now, sell later?’

AFR, P 13 and P 14, Ronald Mizen, ‘Building a scaffold for a soft landing’.

‘Construction is the canary in the coal mine as the Reserve Bank of Australia pushes ahead with its inflation-fighting interest rates – and those in the sector hope the central bank doesn’t go too far.

‘Construction activity fell substantially last month for the first time in several months, as a shortage of materials collided with higher (interest) rates’.

‘In the past, insolvencies in construction have tended to come 12 to 24 months after major economic downtowns, which is what happened after the global financial crisis’.

‘It’s the pipeline nature of the industry where they have work locked in for 12 to 18 months and everyone’s busy, and then the pipeline comes to an end,' Coghlan says.

Sport’. Well, ring the bells! The best Australian tennis player is Nick Kyrgios. He battled his way to a semi-final at Wimbledon, and his opponent withdrew with a bad injury. Novak Djokovic beat his opponent and then faced Kyrgios.

After a win in the first set, Mr Kyrgios lost the next three, making Mr Djokovic the Wimbledon champion for 2022. Lots of applause for Mr Kyrgios who logically should stay like a normal player and keep trying.

Australia’s cricket team is struggling to keep up with Sri Lanka. There have been complaints of failure by the umpires to give out the local team, but so what? Things are very crook in Sri Lanka, and their cricket team deserves to win one game.

In AFL, Caaaarlton! flogged West Coast and sits in the number five place in the list of teams. A lot of good teams just below, and the Blues will need to keep winning to remain in the top eight.

AFR, P1 and P4, Andrew Tillett, ‘China slams Coalition for bad blood.’

Many people have been concerned at the strident comments about China in Scomo‘s government. This was silly in my view, but now Albanese and Wong are beginning to provide polite firmness and have some hope of eventually reaching a disciplined relationship with China.

Here are the first paragraphs of today’s Financial Review, July 11, 2022.

‘China’s foreign minister has blamed the former Coalition as the ‘root cause’ for the disintegration of relations with Australia during his icebreaking meeting with Penny Wong, in a fresh sign of Beijing’s desire to use the election of the Albanese government for a reset’.

‘Wang Yi denounced the former government for its ‘irresponsible words and deeds’ and for treating China as a threat.’

‘The root cause of the difficulties in China-Australia relations in the past few years is that the former Australian government insisted on treating China as an ‘adversity’ or even a ‘threat’, and adopted a serious of irresponsible words and deeds against China,’ Mr Wang is reported to have said in a Chinese Foreign Minister of the meeting.

The Aussie remains rather brave, with front page today saying: P 1, ‘China issues new demands’ and P 10, ‘’Chinese mindset still intractable.

Tony Abbott has a different subject, P 11, ‘Mourning nation’s ‘best friend from Japan’.

‘The assassination of Shinzo Abe has sent shockwaves around the world because he was not just a distinguished former prime minister but had established Japan as the leading democracy of the western Pacific.

‘Like most Japanese statesmen he never fell into the trap of wishful thinking about communist China. Unlike any of his predecessors, though, he took the initiative in creating and sustaining an India-Pacific democratic bloc and is rightly regarded as the father of the Quad. The Quad is the most significant geostrategic development since the formation of NATO and Abe’s relentless focus on bringing it into being marks him out as a supreme strategist.’

AFR, Tuesday 12 July, P 38, Editorial opinion, ‘Albanese is no soft touch under China’s pressure’.

‘The Albanese government may not buy Beijing’s line that the Coalition is to blame for the state of the relationship. But it is playing the blame game by fingering the Morrison government for allegedly failing to engage with the region and for neglecting Australia’s security interests in the South Pacific.

‘To be fair to the former government, the pandemic disruptions dislocated normal for two years...

‘The energy and expertise that Senator Wong has brought her new job is a big positive. Especially when the foreign minister has focussed her attention and efforts on to back-filling the diplomatic and security hole in Australia’s South pacific backyard that China has exposed.’

On the same page, Michael Agnwin questions ‘ALP’s productivity toolbox … ‘Its empty’.’

I agree with this. A little way before this I proposed a group consisting of Paul Keating, Gary Banks and yours truly. With a cohort of bright youngsters, we might find some excellent ideas for increasing productivity. Sitting tight on the government benches will, I assert, not find serious productivity ideas.

Page one of the Financial Review today (Tuesday 12 July) 'Migration fix urged at job summit.’

Hard to disagree but this is obvious and does not need the front page of the Fin to shake people up on this matter.

The right people should go directly to the productivity issue, highly debased relative to the effort to improve productivity several decades ago.

The Aussie, P 11, has a fine article by Greg Sheridan ‘Four ways to avoid a Covid meltdown’.

‘Can’t this bloody virus ever take a hint? Doesn’t it know we all have Covid fatigue? But with apologies to Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in Covid, but Covid is interested in you.

‘Right now there are about 4,000 Australians in hospital with Covid. This could double or go even higher, before winter is out. But the death rate per infection is way, way down.

Combined with a heavy flu season, and the many health professional who can’t attend work because they are sick or exhausted, it’s still just possible our hospitals could be overwhelmed.

‘The sensible question now is what can we do at minimum ... to keep things under control while not driving ourselves mad’.

And in conclusion: ‘None of this [items discussed by Mr Sheridan] requires government compulsion (except masks on public transport.) Clear advice is useful. The virus may be boring but it is not as boring as illness and death’.

The Aussie, Wednesday, July 13, Paul Kelly, ‘Johnson symbolises conservative crisis.’

‘The demise of Boris Johnson is a study in the tragedy of political leadership but, at this point in history, Johnson exemplifies the follies that have befallen conservatism in Western democracies and the problems of governing a debased culture.

‘The first and greatest folly is the abandonment by conservatives of character, integrity and honesty. Johnson fell not primarily because of his flawed policies; he fell because he failed the character test.

‘Johnson wanted to be prime minister on his terms, cavalier about standards, mocking established norms in his addition to our narcissistic culture. For all his entertaining idiosyncrasies Johnson was a tiresome product of celebrity indulgence, exceeded in politics only to Donald Trump.’

Read on, gentle people, it is a wonderful story.

Aussie, P1, Rosie Lewis, Angelica Snowden, ‘Covid U-term rattles business.’

‘Health Minister Mark Butler and his Victorian counterpart are urging Australians to consider working from home ‘for a little time’ to help curb rising Covid-19 cases and respiratory illnesses, triggering a backlash from business groups demanding the country stays open.’

Fair enough, but my understanding is that the latest type of Covid is more than catchable but with far less deaths. If this is true, people should be free to decide for themselves.

‘AFR, Wednesday, 13 July 2022, P1, ‘Angela Macdonald-Smith, ‘US critical minerals deal’.

‘Australia has signed a new technology partnership with the United States and joined an international alliance to secure a global supply of critical minerals as Western nations step up to cut carbon emissions and wean themselves off volatile oil and gas markets.

‘Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowan told an international conference and US officials and ministers yesterday that building resilient supply chains in clean energy would head of the risk of being held hostage for the supply of fossil fuels amid mounting geostrategic risks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’.

The Aussie, July 14, Thursday, ‘We paid the price of Covid: Morrison.’

‘Scott Morrison says there was a damaging political effect to his government’s response to the pandemic, …

‘He also admits that when things inevitably went wrong, as leader ‘you have to cop it’.’

‘The Aussie, July 14, Thursday,’ Not going backwards during Covid-19 spike, winter flu.’

‘Yes, it’s a cold winter and it is the flu season. And the Omnicom Covid-19 variant is highly contagious. It is time for good hygiene, common sense and staying home when sick.’

Sounds ok, people, but go carefully.

Thank you Glen Le Lievre

AFR, Thursday, 14 July, P 42, Editorial&Opinion, ‘A darker world would be a world without fossil fuel security.’

‘Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed Europe’s disorderly transition from fossil fuel energy to wind and solar generation. This may kill the buzz for those calling for faster climate action, precipitous shutdowns of fossil fuel production and a faster transition to renewable energy.

‘But the reality is that the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine has produced not only a global energy price shock. It has also led to an energy security crisis, as many European countries – amid a wind drought on the Content – are forced to depend on continued flow of Russian gas to keep the lights on. This has handed Vladimir Putin the power to slow the gas tap to pressure Europe to withdraw support for Ukraine.

‘As the world continues on the journey to a net zero emissions future, and amid the growing authoritarian threats to the rule-based order, it is therefore prudent for policymakers to be factoring geopolitics into their decarbonisation plans.’

Henry’s weekday musing.

I must say this. Russia vs Ukraine seemed like a fair battle. Russia started badly, apparently with relatively non-experienced armies and possibly leader reluctance. Ukraine seemed to be more confident and definitely trying harder.

Gradually when trying with more experienced soldiers, ruthlessly attacking women and children and more committed generals the Russians seem to be making a better job of the war.

My issue is this. The West has provided weapons, ordinance and some enthusiasm. But the effort of the West is far less than it could be.

Russia has threatened nuclear attack. My wife says the main reason for our less than adequate support for Ukraine is the West’s fear of nuclear attack. But Putin’s behaviour has been so nasty (and generally agreed to involve a lot of illegal behaviour), that if the West decided to launch a rapid, brutal (but legal) attack on several major Russian cities, Russia would have to crumble.

And I’d cheer.


Fiona Prior crosses paths with a wicked witch or two, a naïve academic, dancers donning rams' skulls and a naked dancing women. Just your average Friday night. More here.

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