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9 responses to “Through the Looking Glass Darkly”

  1. Mark

    Crikey has some interesting background on Phelps as a member of the NSW Liberals’ hard right:


  2. oyster

    phelps looks a bit like howard and acts like him
    i wonder if he is love child of howards

  3. Geoff Honnor

    “If Phelps supports our presence in Iraq, why did he carry on like a loony Trot opponent of our Iraq involvement at that public meeting?”

    As I read it, Phelps isn’t opposed to involvement in Iraq. His ineptly made and bizarrely inappropriate point was that Kelly was a hypocrite for serving in Iraq if he, Kelly, was opposed to Australian involvement – hence Phelps’ Godwinesque invocation of the Nuremburg Defence when Kelly pointed out that his presence in the theatre was in the normal course of order-driven events.

    It isn’t clear what Phelps thinks Kelly should properly have done, in this situation, as a member of the ADF – desert perhaps?

  4. Gummo Trotsky

    I don’t read Phelps’ intentions any differently Geoff. Or find his behaviour any less bizarre. But Bolt’s attempt to defend him – by trying to argue it’s was Phelps who has been smeared by Labor, and the fact that even here commenters are focussing on Kelly’s alleged hypocrisy rather than Phelps’ totally out there behaviour – those things are truly bizarro-world stuff.

  5. anon

    The Special Minister of State is a very powerful position in the current parliament. The position controls the use of parliamentary entitlements such as printing and travel and manages the relationship between Department of Finance and parliamentarians.

    Peter Phelps, as Chief of Staff to two SMoS, wields his fair share of that power both within his own party and with other parties. He’s a man drunk on his own ability to have power and control working within a party that has likewise been consumed by the same.

    No surprise that he turns up “as a private citizen” to a political meeting and feels that it’s OK to make bizarre accusations. It’s a pity that he’s actually quite clever, but clearly lacking any rational judgement.

  6. Carl

    Very belo the belt, gutter politics, even for this mob.

    Obviously the analogy is ridiculous, Kelly did his tour and since being back has campaigned against the war. The officers tried at Nuremburg only used that defence once they were on the stand, with their hides on the line.

    Anon, I don’t agree with you about the SMoS role. Phelps may be a factional heavy weight and wield some power within the party but its a pretty weak portfolio. The SMoS is responsible for run of the mill administrative issues, although the recent changes to electoral laws are of significance and were engineered out of his office (but most likely under the direction of Howard).

    The SMoS role with finance is purely administratvie, pensions, travel and other rorts, he certainly dosn’t have say in expenditure issues, which is the Finance Minsiters role and who’s power within the Government is understated and generally not acknowledged.

  7. professor rat

    The former UN chief said this war was illegal. There is not only ample evidence that it is in fact illegal under International law but it also fits the category of the supreme crime as described under the Nuremberg precedent. Its also common knowledge that the Au SAS was also operating before the ‘official’ ultimatum to Saddam and sons ran out. Then another direct parallel with this illegal aggressive war and WW2 is the avalanche of lies practically amounting to the ‘Big Lie’ technique being used to manufacture consent.
    So to sum up, invoking Godwins’ was totally justified in this case. Nothing ‘loony’ or ‘Trotskyist’ about it. In fact if you bothered to investigate the neocons those slanderous baseless epitaths of Loony Troskyists could just as easily be applied to the neocons!

    Sy Hersh isn’t shy about doing that and neither should any decent democratic or libertarian socialist.

    This article doesn’t reach LP standards imho.

  8. Guise

    I crossed paths with Peter Phelps a couple of times at meetings of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations. I have no trouble believing he meant every word he said to Kelly – and he would have needed no direction from Nairn to say it.

    An anecdote which tells you everything you need to know about the man. Way back in ’94 he turned up to a meeting at the University of Western Sydney with a mobile phone. Not many people had them, then – certainly not too many lowly student wanna-be politicians. He explained to everyone – whether they wanted to know or not – that he had calculated that it was better for him to have a mobile phone, and so always be contactable (as a student pollie!) than pay for a landline and an answering machine and perhaps miss something important. He’d even had his landline disconnected, such was his zeal for the new technology.

    All of this is the mere hint of a prat. The confirmation comes with the knowledge that Telstra were running a competition at the time: they would ring subscribers at random and if they were answered with “Hello, this is so-and-so, thank you for calling Telstra Mobile-Net”, you won valuable free minutes!. So can anyone guess how young Peter Phelps answered the phone, the one and only time it rang that day?

    A prat then, a prat now, and a prat in all possible futures. Go on, Pete, threaten to sue me again.

    Rest assured, this man will one day be the member for some safe safe safe conservative seat. We can only hope that he won’t have the wisdom to temper his remarks. That way we can be sure of continued entertainment.

  9. johnno

    I have just seen on Insiders the video of Phelps’ interaction with Kelly including the after the forum interaction on Kelly’s involvement (as an Australian lawyer/soldier) in a case in Somalia that led to the execution of someone. Phelps’ behaviour was unspeakable. There are ethical and legal issues in Phelps’ questions which Kelly did not address, but I understand why now. There’s no point in putting detailed legal and ethical arguments to someone who is only out to trap you and attempt to embarass you. A pity really. Because Kelly’s thoughts on how a soldier decides what to do about work they have some ethical objection to, would be well worth hearing, as he has superb qualifications and experience in this area.