Monday, February 20, 2006

Return To Sender

Do you reckon, when it's over,
and everyone stops squeaking
Alexander Downer
(politically speaking)
will end up sliding swiftly
down a pointy-ended bannister?
His career, reduced to ashes,
we'll scoop into a cannister
We'll put them in an envelope
and send them on their way
addressed "Return To Sender,
c/o White House, USA"

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Ballad of Lord Downer and Kindly Lisa

As Downer went riding in First Class one day
He spied a young damsel eating tuna mornay
With a fol of the rol and a didlle of of the day
He smiled at Kindly Lisa, saying unto her "G'day"

"I know this may sound strange, for it will be tricky,
to keep news of this from my wife, Lady Vicky
but my heart and my soul are for you, not my missus,
Let's not tell our courtiers, in case they dismiss us.

Kindly Lisa, quite flattered by intrigue and guile
bestowed upon Downer a radiant smile
saying "well shall you be repaid for devotion
now hasten to your court, and from there pass a motion

What you shall pass is your land's sovereignty
Give it to my leaders, that it may come to me
All I can accomplish with you by my side
and when I am Empress, you'll be my bride"

Lord Downer uplifted his head with a jerk
"Aha" he cried out "now I know of your lurk
I was playing along to see how far
Kindly Lisa would go to be Democracy's Star

"I care," said Downer, "for democracy.
Global domination means little to me
I cross the ocean, I'll whistle and sing
If you think I'd sell Australia, you can kiss my ring"

Halliburton Watch On S.A. Slave Labour

Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper slams Halliburton's 'slave labor'
13 Feb., 2006
WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 ( -- An Australian newspaper owned by right wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch reports that Halliburton hires "slave labor" to dig ditches and perform other duties.

In an article titled "Slave labor for $40 a day," Murdoch's Advertiser newspaper, based in South Australia, reports in today's edition that Halliburton "imports" Indonesian workers for as little as $40 a day ($US29) to work 80 days straight in the Australian desert. In contrast, Australian workers are paid a minimum wage of $15 per hour ($US11) for the same work.

Murdoch is chairman of News Corp., which owns the American Fox News cable network, the New York Post newspaper and other notoriously pro-corporate and staunchly conservative media outlets that employ right-wing pundits including Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and John Podhoretz.

In the article, the Advertiser said it "asked about the claims that workers were underpaid and mistreated" by Halliburton in Australia, but public relations officials at the company's Houston headquarters refused to respond. "Despite three days of requests to Halliburton in Australia and the U.S., they have not answered the claims," the article states.

Australian Workers Union secretary Wayne Hanson told the Advertiser that the workers are employed under "absolute extreme sweatshop-like conditions." He said it's not surprising that Halliburton is "exploiting" immigrants to work in hostile conditions in Australia's Outback.

An official with Australia's opposition Labor Party, Tony Burke, told the Advertiser he was "genuinely shocked" that the country's migration system had "got as bad as that." He said, "Skilled migration is meant to be used for filling gaps we weren't prepared for. Instead, it's being used to cut training places and slash wages."

"If companies such as Halliburton want to play in Australia, they must learn to play by Aussie rules," said South Australian internet blogger and anti-Halliburton activist Richard Tonkin. He said, "In South Australia's outback, Halliburton has been flouting Australia's Industrial Relations laws by employing foreigners at wage levels inappropriate to Australian ethics."

HalliburtonWatch recently reported that Halliburton bills the U.S. military $50 per day for Third World workers in Iraq who are paid a daily wage of only $5.

Last year, Murdoch's Fox News cable network praised Halliburton's work in Iraq.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Diary Of An English Visitor

This was sent to me today, and I couldn't resist.

An Alice Springs Summer - By A 'Pom'....

August 31st

Just got transferred with work into our new home in Alice Springs!!

Now this is a city that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! I watched the sunset from a

deck chair on the verandah It was beautiful. I've finally found my home.

I love it here.

September 13th:

Really heating up. Got to 35 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to

see the sun everyday like this. I'm turning into a sun worshipper.

September 30th:

Had the backyard landscaped with tropical plants today. Lots of palms and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing lawn for me.

Another scorcher today, but I love it here.

October 10th

The temperature hasn't been below 35 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least today it's kind of windy though. But

getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.

October 15th:

Fell asleep by the pool. Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body.

Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.

October 25th:

The wind sucks. It feels like a giant fuckin blow dryer!! And it's hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the blink and the AC repairman

charged $200 just to drive over and tell me he needed to order parts.

October 30th:

Been sleeping outside by the pool for 3 nights now. Bloody $300,000 house and we can't even go inside. Why did I ever come here?

November 4th:

It's 38 degrees. Finally got the ol' air-conditioner fixed today. It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 25, but the bloody humidity

makes the house feel like it's about 30. Stupid repairman. I hate this stupid fuckin place.

November 8th:

If another wise arse cracks, "Hot enough for you today?" I'm going to fuckin throttle him. Fuckin heat! By the time I get to work the car's

radiator was boiling over, my clothes are soakin fuckin wet, and I smell like baked cat!!

November 9th:

Tried to run some messages after work. Wore shorts, and sat on the

black leather seats in the ol' car. I thought my fuckin arse was on fire. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and my fuckin arse. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried arse, and baked cat.

November 10th:

The weather report might as well be a fuckin recording. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and fuckin sunny. It's been too hot to do

anything for 2 damn months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn't it ever rain in this damn fuckin place? Water rationing will be next, so my $2,000 worth of palms just might dry up and blow into the fuckin pool. Even the palms can't live in this fuckin heat.

November 14th:

Welcome to HELL!!! Temperature got to 41 today. Now the air-conditioner's gone in my car. The repairman came to fix it and said,

"Hot enough for you today?" My wife had to spend the $2,500 mortgage payment to bail my arse out of jail for assulting the stupid

fucker. Fuck Alice Springs! What kind of a sick demented fuckin idiot would want to live here?

December 1st:

WHAT????? This is only the first day of Summer????!!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Annoouncements like this, even three months late, would be fine if the SA Labor Government had any involvement with Tenix's securing of this Defence contract. However, the decision would probably have been made by former Defence Minister Reith, who retired from the Defence portfolio into a Tenix consultancy

[from ABC News On Line]

South Australian Premier Mike Rann has announced a new $1 billion defence contract for Adelaide, three months after it was signed.

Defence company Tenix announced back in November last year that it had won the Federal Government's contract but that did not stop Mr Rann from announcing it again today.

"So we congratulate Tenix today there could not be a better relationship between the State Government and Tenix," he said.

Peter Weir from Tenix says the $1 billion contract involves upgrading and maintaining 19 P3C Orion aircraft, which are stationed at the Edinburgh Air Base.

Mr Weir says work has already begun and the contract will create 300 jobs.

"It's an important contract for Tenix, we currently have 800 people employed in South Australia," he said.

The contract runs for 10 years.

Halliburton Australia Imports Cheap Labour

Halliburton Australia. has a major part of South Australian business activities It's Adelaide office was fomerly the company's global headquarters for infrastruture. Under the trading name of KBR it is employed by the State government and local councils. It has been involved in construction of the Port River Expressway and has proposed a development project for Lake Alexandrina.

Halliburton is also employed by the Department Of Foreign Affairs and Trade to carry out international aid contracts on Australia's behalf, and has many defence industry contracts.

In South Australia's outback, Halliburton has been flouting Australia's Industrial Relations laws by employing foreigners at wage levels inappropriate to Australian ethics. By referring the Advertiser's questions to it's head office in Houston it has revealed where its South Australian activities are truly conducted from.

On evidence of such a flagrant violation of Australian trust, the ethics involved in all the company's interaction with all levels of government in South Australia must now be called into question. If companies such as Halliburton want to play in Australia, they must learn to play by Aussie rules.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

AWB-What A Downer!

Let's face it, if this mob are lying over so little, how could you trust them on anything major?

{From today's Australian]

The Howard Government has known for years that Australia's wheat exporter, AWB, was ordered by the UN to reduce the inflated prices on its wheat contracts by 10 per cent.

The UN told AWB to cut $28 million from two contracts worth $300 million in July 2003 because it correctly assumed the extra money was a kickback for the benefit of Saddam Hussein's regime.

AWB told the Howard Government, via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Iraq taskforce, that it had agreed to the price reduction, without saying the money was a bribe.

The taskforce -- which met daily, and reported directly to John Howard and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer -- had, by then, been warned that Saddam had ordered his suppliers under the oil-for-food program to include a 10 per cent kickback for his benefit

"There's a guarantee ... that this sort of corruption won't ever happen again with Saddam Hussein's regime, because the regime simply doesn't exist," said Mr Downer on Sunday. Not that it didn't happen, wasn't happenning anywhere else, but that it couldn't happen amid that same set of circumstances because the situation had changed.

This is closer to an admission than anything that Mr D has said so far.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What's in it for you, Alexander?

The commentary below, written in yesterday's Australian by the Foreign Minister, comes from a hard-done-by man at the centre of a media witch-hunt... and a bloody good spin-doctor in his office.
Last year's ambassador to New York is now Senior Veep to an investment group with assets of $750 billion dollars... and was prepared to risk his street-cred over a paltry 300 million of bribe payments. Why? Because of the promise of the next job I'm guessing.

Downer was touted by the Bush administration to head the IAEA. In this capacity he would have been currently publicly leading the world into war with Iran. What would your next career move be after something like that?

However, that employment path didn't occur, and now Downer is whining from his corner about the perpetration of unfair tactics against him and hs goons. Poor baby. You'll be strong and powerful again one day, unfortunately.

[extract from The Oz]

There can be no more serious charge than to suggest the Government was aware of kickbacks and acted to cover them up. Yet this is the claim being made by Labor's Kim Beazley and Kevin Rudd -- without any evidence. These men, who aspire to lead this country, are suggesting my colleagues and I are dishonest and corrupt. It is an intemperate and demeaning approach to political debate. But what is worse is that the same slur is made against the many diplomats and officials who work diligently in my department.

It is astonishing that such an allegation is being peddled by Beazley and Rudd without any supporting evidence. As they well know, written communications are the norm in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Records of conversation, cables and emails detail myriad negotiations, conversations, briefings and instructions from post to post around the world and back to Canberra every day. The Cole inquiry has access to all DFAT's staff and records.

The Government has always maintained that we had no knowledge of AWB being involved in kickbacks. Allegations from its commercial rivals had been put to AWB and referred to the UN (which oversaw the program and its contracts) and we received assurances at the time that the claims were baseless. For all the political and media ruckus of recent times, this reality has not changed. Yet Beazley and Rudd continue with their smear, regardless.

The corruption of the UN's oil-for-food program is a major international scandal. It was uncovered by the Volcker inquiry following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

In 2003, Labor's advice was that we leave Saddam in power and continue to rely on the UN's sanction regime to keep him under pressure. In other words, the Labor plan would have seen the corrupted sanctions regime still in operation.

The Australian Government fully supported the Volcker inquiry and instructed our departments to provide it with all the necessary assistance. We also urged Australian companies, including AWB Ltd, to co-operate fully.

As confronting as Paul Volcker's report was late last year, we are better for the knowledge of what went on. In response, we established the Cole inquiry to investigate the allegations that Australian companies, including AWB, could have wittingly or unwittingly paid kickbacks to the Iraqi regime under the oil-for-food program. The public hearings of the Cole inquiry have resulted already in many disturbing revelations. The inquiry is doing precisely what the Government asked it to do - get to the heart of what actually happened.

The inquiry has access to whatever documents or witnesses it requires. We expect nothing other than a thorough investigation and fearless findings. As commissioner Terence Cole said, he has the power to look into the level of knowledge within the Government. He also said he would ask for an extension of his terms of reference if there was evidence that commonwealth officers had been implicated in the commission of any offence - but he has also said that stage has not been reached.

Natural justice requires that we all suspend judgment on AWB, other companies and their staff until the inquiry hears all of its evidence and makes its findings. We should not indulge in trial by media, which leads to the hanging, drawing and quartering of parties before the inquiry process is complete.