Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Downer in Deep Tabouli

Fess Up, Alexander... you've known about the AWB bribes all along, haven't you? The US Embassy knew, the State Department knew, DFAT knew... Uncle Bert in Naracoorte had it sussed. How could you be the only person in the whole chain of events who knew what was going on?

When you arranged for Australia's US ambassador to divert US attention to the AWB into a UN inquiry, what blackmail did you use for leverage? Surely it took more than a "please"?

And when the Condileeza's boys fixed the US wheat ban last year, surely it wasn't because it wasn't just because you're such a nice bloke?

Perhaps everyone's beginning to panic because this might be just the tip of the iceberg of Australian centred scamming. What will happen if the US public learn that Congress has had the flow of aid money hidden from its eyes by diverting it along its path to Iraq through Australia?

When PM Howard promised lots of Ausaid to Iraq in the same week that KBR advertised in the Economist for an International Aid Director to be based in Adelaide, did you think nobody would notice? Well, some people did, Alexander, and there's a rumbling in 'Merica that this could be the next Watergate.

Maybe this was why everyone was in such a hurry to kick out Scott Parkin last year... what if he blew the whistle while Rumsfeld was in Adelaide. It would make very bad press, and poo sticks much more easily than sugar.

Back to the wheat drama. How many people will fall on swords to protect the mass of deceit and bribery that lies behind it? No matter how much harakiri goes on, Alex, you'll still need to "spill your guts" in the end.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Halliburton Hill Rides Into The Sunet

Minister Hill has stepped down today, to enjoy his thirty pieces of silver. Senator for South Australia and Federal Defence Minister, he's crucified his own population for the sake of his own street-cred, and gone hunting fresh fields in the form of an international diplomatic posting.

His predecessor, Peter Reith, was happy to scarper with a few kickbacks for providing defence work for sister companies Tenix and Transfield (his first job out of the Ministry was as a Tenix Consultant) but nothing quite like Hill's pimping of South Australia to Halliburton and General Dynamics. Hill has stated that the Army expansion into this state resulted from the suprising discovery that the Halliburton owned and built railway was useful for transporting weapons.. gee, what a suprise. If Yours Truly had figured that out eighteen months ago, surely someone in the DoD had half a clue?

Hill says that he hasn't been offered the UN Ambassadorship... good. The thought of him and former SA Premier John Olsen sitting in New York (in the same apartments) gloating over a Bollinger was making me ill. Olsen gave Halliburton their first toehold in Adelaide by letting their Australian boss sneak a peak at the tenders to run SA's Water Supply, then put in a more competitive bid several hours after the submisssion cut-off deadline. Now they have honchos on the the development boards, no doubt their tenders will continue to be extremely "competitive".

Look what happened in Byron Bay this week! A Green-led council gave KBR control of their sewerage because they thought they'd be sued if they knocked back Cheney's men on political grounds. How many similar instances are occuring across Australia? This is the environment that Hill and Olsen has created.

Ironically, Liberal Hill's departure gives Labor SA Premier Rann a better run-up to our March State election. Without the person who really created our Defence State hanging around to beat his chest, Rann can continue to claim that it was all his own doing.

Given my druthers I'd have all of them sharing an apartment in Baxter.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stranger In a Strange (Halliburton) land

Having had local councils on my mind since learning how the Byron Bay Council gave Halliburton a contract because they were afraid of a lawsuit, I"ve had a coincidental week.

I was just smiling over my front gate to a council inspector while explaining my unregistered
dog. As I don't drive, I have no licence. In order to prove who I was
I had to find three pieces of identification. This was in order to
receive a fine.

I have flown to Qeensland using an album cover and a 1971 (age
six) passport, I've played at Edinburgh Air Force Base using a
multi-coloured Land Rover and a pub social club card. Flying to Port
Lincoln I used letters sent to me from the State Attorney General, the
former Arts Minister and a Liberal MLC.

I ascribe to the late
science fiction writer (and inventor of the water-bed) Robert
Heinlein's theory that when a culture demands you continually prove who
you are, it's time to move somewhere else. The trouble is, where to go?

I've just spent a few days down at Narrung, on the side of Lake Alexandrina
near the Murray's Mouth. No telly, no net, no shops, no dogcatchers...just one of the
world's most beautiful shorelines. One every few hours the soundscape
is disturbed by a mechanical engine, but that's okay because it reminds
you that the noise that you spend your city-life blotting out is not
part of the nature you're now inhabiting.

Down at the barrages which separate the Murray from the sea,
the gates are open so that you can admire the Haliburton solar panel and
pumping equipment. Even KBR seem to have become lackadaisical down here.

A stranger in a strange land, I attempted to grok the technology (or if you prefer, Arthur C. Clarke, I was the caveman before the monolith) and failed.

We have one important piece of technology at the shack at Narrung. Dad uses the ride-on mower to mow the verges in the town. The KBR contractors, with no work to do, drive on.

Next morning, crossing the (bloody bumpy) lake, I looked out on the water
where Cheney's Men plan to build a hundred-kay diameter freshwater
reclamation system, complete with housing estate and marina.

In the same manner an engine noise conflicts here, the mental picture of
such an unatural construct in the middle of such a naturally pristine
environment seemed wrong. In the truest meaning of the word, it's

Back on the shores of reality, we drove back to the city on what is going to become a four-lane highway. Guess who the designers might be?

Nope, this isn't the Heinlein-esqe bolt-hole that it shouldn't be- at least, it won't be in ten years time I doubt there are many left. If one exists, you can expect to see a corporate logo there sometime in the near future

Australian Foreign Minister In International Bribe Scandal

Mr Downer, the beginning of the inquiry into possible corrupt practices by the Australian Wheat Board in Iraq will be notable in hindsight as the beginning of your demise as Australian Foreign Minister..

How easily the mighty can fall. One minute you're touted to head the International Atomic Energy Agency, the next you're about to become embroiled in an international bribery scandal !

Remember, back in 96, when you announced Australian Wheat being involved in the Iraqi Oil-For-Food Program? You werre happy to look for kudos back then regarding AWB involvment, but I guess you'd love to turn back time now, wouldn't you?

Those lines written to you a year later by the Governor Of Texas , that hung so proudly on your Adelaide offfice wall, must seem as empty words now. Remember them?

Australia is a very important
ally of the United States, and should I ever be in the position to
reconfirm that alliance, I look forward to doing so. I hope to see you
again. Respectfully yours, George W. Bush.

Since then you've "earned your stripes" by simultaneously goading the Koreans and reintroducing Australia to fear of missile warface and have been truly an asset in campaigning for the Free Trade Agreement. However, this doesn't look like being enough to "save" your diplomatic "skin"

Back over on the "minus side of the ledger", your inconsistencies made Doug Wood's release almost unusable as a US photo-op of Bush-Coalition-achieved success. However, by a change in plan the job was done, so your tactical ineptitude did no real damage

You created a little loss of face for Condi RIce when you said that her security couldn't handle Adelaide's "Leftist Protesters", but nothing irreparable. "Condi", as you love to call her, is now seeing you in Washington. I wonder if relationships are as sugary as last time? If Laura Bush is speaking for the Family Regime, then "Condi," as the next Bush Presidential candidate, might consider your new status as making for as less than a vote-winning "photo op". When she finds that you've been using your US State Department contacts to smooth the AWB issues behind her back and have obviously still failed to rectify the main problem, do you think she'll be happy with you? Unlikely. Doctor Rice, as she'll probably now prefer to be referred to as, is apparently not in any hurry to fill your requests that the US considers Australia important enough to have an American Ambassador. Do you consider this as rubbing your nose in your international diplomatic standing? I suggest that you should.

Had things gone the "right way" it would be you opening the roads into Iran, an official leading the Coalition into another justified war. In spite of the six million dollars a year Australian gives to the IAEA budget and all of Bush's pushing, you didn't get the IAEA job, making you a bit of a "spent bullet " in global terms.

Do you think the US President will want to know you now that you're involved in bribery scandal over sales of Aussie wheat to Iraq? Are the strings tjhat were pulled for you last year, when you protested the US banning of our wheat, available to you any more? When the UN exposed the AWB trickery, the government department that you represent wasn't involved in the fiasco. Now that it is, Alex, you've just become a political liabily to the Bush Whitehouse.

You've also lost your US publicity credibility factor as a spokesman for the international success of the Coalition. What will Mr and Mrs US Public think when they learn that a chief minister from Down Under was lining the pockets of the man whose defeat was the reason for which their sons and daughters died ? It won't help George's opinion polls at all.

According to The Age, AWB witnesses at last year's inquiry into the Oil For Food deliberately mislead the United Nation's investigation. Given that the former chief of the AWB has stated awareness that several of his officials "went to Canberra to talk to DFAT" isn't anyone in the position of Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs in the centre of a cyclone of ethical breaches?

Alexander, four months ago you were, in your own words, representing Australia to the United Nations. The void of puppet coalition ally inside the UN has, it seems, been filled by the imminent appointment as Australian Ambassodor to the United Nations of Federal Defence Minister Robert Hill

You have the opportunity to leave this public office with comparative dignity and grace. Prudence would advocate carpe diem.

Better luck as Treasurer.

Around two thousand years ago there was a bloke called Pontius Pilate (who turns out to be a Scot) who was much more honest in matters of population crucifixion than the Australian Cabinet is being. Howard, Hill and Downer are about to wash their hands in the Green Room (to borrow from the theatre) by changing jobs, no doubt to assuage any Westminster System generated guilt of their participation in PNAC's ideals. Our new Prime Minister Costello will be able to say he had nothing to do with the destructive force of Armageddon (currently under an Isreali army base) as he was busy balancing the budget at the time.

As we speak I'm listening to PM.. news from the inquiry today, which is sounding like an episode of Yes, Minister. Downer was definitely spoken to personally about AWB's problems in payment, but only in a broader conceptual sense. (transcript when it's online) Another good hand-wash!

The international division of Daimler Chrysler, also named in the Volker report as bribing Saddam, has demonstrated what our Prime Minister has been forced to do. It has suspended six of its executives

AWB Chief Executive Andrew Lindberg has taken another approach, saying today that although he believed he was telling the UN inquiry the truth, new knowledge has lead him to no longer stand by his earlier testimony.

Monday, January 02, 2006


This Webduary piece has raised over 50 responses.

Welcome to Armygeddon

Canberra's annual event for hot-rodders has attracted a vulture. The Australian army, keen to attract lovers of "extreme" life have targetted the event to turn "rev-heads" into "grunts."

For the first time the nineteen year history of the annual January Summernats event (here's the ad) everyone driving a car home can feel patriotism with every burn-out.

The Army's psychological tool, brainchild of the ADF's propaganda boffins, is called "Armygeddon". It's a converted Land-Rover that does everything that Herbie the Love-Bug can, promoting high adventure in the Humvees and Abrahams tanks. Below the fire licking from its headlights, the word "ARMY" is emblazoned on its bumper.

Head of Army, Lieutantant General Peter Leahy, spokesperson for Armygeddon, says that the 'Street Machine' is ".. an outstanding piece of machinery. Anyone can do a normal burnout, only this vehicle can do these in incredible combinations."

Street MachineWho would have thought that joining the Army means that you get to drive "Street Machines" like this?

The only catch is that the car fanatics wouldn't ever get near the steering wheel unless they happen to be specifically trained experts. Even the company commissioned by the ADF to build the Armygeddon Street Machine found themselves moving into the background, as the vehicle needed ".. the skill of a trained operator to optimise it's performance" Lucky the Army had drivers who "demonstrated that they would be capable of an awesome display during the Summernats."

Lieutenant General Leahy says that the machine is designed to entice lovers of "extreme" life into the armed forces. "It's about working our image amongst that crowd, the young crowd, the adventurous people, those with technical skills"

I'm trying to think like a member of the ADF's target demographic....

"Wow.. the Army's really cool. I thought it was all cluster bombs, insurgents and thousands of dead people. Now you tell me you get to do tricks in cars. I'm in!!

No worries, mate.. give us a car like this and it'll be just like a Clint Eastwood movie. If we find ourselves invading a village of hostile natives that want to kill us, we'll be able to whack the Land-Rover up on wheel and do a "doughnut". Then we'll p*ss off back to the barbie and have a laugh about it. It was good fun, in Armygeddon."

The streets of Canberra's suburbs are going to be interesting for a few days afterwards. Every kid doing a "burn-out" will be considered justified in their practice of military training.. you'll be able to smell the testosterone way beyond the NSW border.

I cannot understand the thinking in this project. If the name is only a Freudian slip, then those who proposed and approved the the promotion of the name of the final battle-site of Christianity should be resitting psychological exams. At any rate, it's not great timing to call anything a name resembling Armageddon in the lead-up months to June 6, 2006.

I'm thinking of a fantastic radio ad the army could use. "Which Australian city will see Armygeddon on 6/6/6?" Too tacky, you say? On the tackiness front, after the Army's Canberra Recruitment Drive, anything is now possible

South Australian Mining Exploration Above State Laws

I found this on the Wilderness Society's website... it says everything about the high-handedness that is being conducted by the mining corporations as they take our children's inheritance:

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information by The Wilderness Society suggests that mining companies in SA set their own conditions for mineral exploration. Documents show that the South Australian Government ignored the advice of its own Environment Department and allowed mining company Adelaide Resources & Inco Ltd to set key conditions for mining in sensitive Yellabinna mallee region in the state's west.

The documents released in a report by The Wilderness Society (pdf, 240k) today show that the Department of Primary Industries and Resources (PIRSA) approved mining exploration licences which rejected environmental controls by the Department of Environment (DEH) after the mining company refused to accept them.

Spokesperson for The Wilderness Society, Jamnes Danenberg said, "These exploration licences are a first step towards mining the Yellabinna mallee, one of this state's great wilderness areas. It is outrageous that the Mining Minister simply ignores the government's own environmental advice when a mining company says that it doesn't want to do something".

The Wilderness Society is calling for the proposed Wilderness Protection Area in Yellabinna, announced by the Premier in July last year, to be expanded to ensure protection of the sensitive areas from mining. It is also calling for significant changes to the way mining is managed in the State.

"This incident highlights that PIRSA, the mining regulator, which has large exploration targets to meet, has a clear conflict of interest and cannot be trusted on environmental management and monitoring. The Department of Environment has no real power in the process. Its advice can be ignored, and mining is not subject to regulation by the Environment Protection Authority. It is like the fox minding the chickens".