October 18th, 2005 at 08:59pm
Apoligies for the very bad attempt at a pun in the title, but it seemed appropriate.
This afternoon my attention was drawn to the comments of Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman. Piers made some very interesting, and in my view correct, observations about the Leaky Stanhope Saga, which I have previously covered.
As I don’t know how long the link to the Daily Telegraph article will last for, I have mirrored Piers’ comments below. I have since emailed Piers with my views on the issue, and some little bits of information which Piers might be interested in when it comes to the rest of the Chief Turnip’s cabinet.
I also found it quite interesting that the John Laws web poll “Are the Howard Government’s proposed anti-terror laws too tough?” attracted the following result.
I’ll admit that the average John Laws listener is probably somewhat right-winged, but considering that the John Laws website is reported to have hundreds of thousands of visitors each day, it is probably a mostly fair representation of a cross section of the community, especially seeing as people are often referred to the polls by email with no knowledge of what discussions have taken place on the show.
Another fiddle by the Nero of Canberra
October 18, 2005
SHOWING once again he is not the best man to have on your side in a firestorm, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, on whose watch Canberra burnt two summers ago, has abandoned all ethical and security considerations in an attempt to undermine the Federal Government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation.
Having agreed with all other state and territory leaders to respect the confidentiality of the draft anti-terrorism bill while it was under discussion, Mr Stanhope, displaying all the maturity of a wet-behind-the-ears student activist, promptly published the content on his Toy Town government’s website, and, in so doing made himself out to be some sort of hero with the immature Left.
Responsible government requires responsible leadership – even more so with the world locked in combat against the most lethal forms of terrorism.
But not from the knee-jerk populist Mr Stanhope. The lessons taught by New York, Bali, Jakarta, Madrid and London have escaped the notice of this former Beazley political staffer.
If security matters cannot be discussed in confidentiality, there is little chance of ever meeting the terrorist threat.
Mr Stanhope, has, of course, a dismal record when it comes to protecting the malcontented public servants in his fiefdom.
When bushfires threatened the ACT in January, 2003, his administration rejected the concerned inquiries made by the NSW fire authorities and the subsequent firestorm that swept through Canberra’s suburbs destroyed more than 500 houses, killed four people and left others with serious burns.
Scandalously, this self-proclaimed man-of-the-people then attempted to shut down the coronial inquiry just as it began to raise questions which went to the heart of his administration’s failed decision-making process.
When later challenged about the ACT Government’s failure to recognise the gravity of the bushfire threat, he said famously: “I’m not a firefighter; I don’t have that experience.”
No, indeed. Nor is there any evidence that he is an expert on terrorism but he did say after being briefed by the heads of the security apparatus on the new anti-terror laws: “Faced with blunt advice from the head of ASIO, from the head of the Office of National Assessments and from the head of the Australian Federal Police that we do indeed face grave circumstances in Australia, it really isn’t possible for any head of government to turn away and to take some other advice or to make some personal judgment on how serious the situation is. The situation is serious.”
The meeting with the security chiefs, he said, “provided, I believe, a strong justification for a range of new laws”.
That was last month. Three weeks later, the populist politician has changed his tune dramatically, telling a meeting of Muslim leaders in Canberra last Friday: “Today I invite Canberra’s Muslims to see for themselves the draft legislation the Prime Minister has presented to the states and territories for their consideration.
“I do not wish to deceive you. The laws to which I have agreed are unpalatable laws. They are laws I never anticipated I would be called upon to consider.
“I believe it is wrong and counterproductive for us to keep insisting that this behaviour has no causal links to our invasion of Iraq. I also believe that the anxiety and dislocation felt by Muslims can no longer be seen in isolation from the West’s behaviour in relation to Palestine.”
Where Mr Stanhope’s newfound knowledge of terrorism comes from is a mystery.
Perhaps he is being briefed by Michael Costello, who also worked on Mr Beazley’s staff and is now the $400,000-a-year head of the ACT’s water and electricity utility.
Fanatical Islamist terrorists began targeting infidels or poor observers of the tenets of Islam long before the Iraqi conflict and without any reference to Middle Eastern political structure.
Previously, Mr Stanhope restrained his half-baked political activism to providing support for a juvenile staffer who stealthily crept around Canberra shopping areas in the dead of night creating stultifyingly stupid graffiti. Now he has brought his naive approach to bear on more serious affairs.
The contrast between the stupefying response of this arch poseur to the current global crisis and that of the 10 million or so brave Iraqis who defied suicidal murderers to register their acceptance of Iraq’s new constitution last weekend is absolutely breathtaking.
Their enthusiasm in the face of dreadful threats matched that of the millions of Africans a decade ago who queued for hours to vote for freedom from apartheid in South Africa after years of oppression.
Like the South Africans, Iraqis believe they can stand up to those who want to steal the keys of liberty and democracy.
How, given his absurd utterances, would Mr Stanhope and his fellow doomsayers expect Australia to respond to the threat of international terrorism against those he represents? With the same facile response he mustered before the bushfires two years ago or with more steel?
His unprincipled abrogation of his agreement to participate in confidential talks on a series of unexceptional proposals to deal with terrorism certainly does not inspire confidence in his understanding of the gravity of the situation the world now faces.
Nor do his views on Iraq and the Middle East indicate anything beyond arrant populism.
He has committed a serious breach of trust and it would be perfectly understandable should colleagues in the state and federal governments exclude him from future confidential talks and briefings.
Courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au