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66 responses to “Joel and the poll”

  1. Brian

    Kim, I think Turnbull thinks his job is to oppose everything, or at least his best bet in distinguishing his motley crew from the Government.

    It’s leading him into some strange territory.

  2. Bingo Bango Boingo

    “The government fires back that they’re playing the “yellow peril” card, and that’s probably true.”

    Go read Swan’s recent press releases and you’ll see who is playing the ‘yellow peril’ card in a far more serious way.


  3. joe2

    Definitely in the previous thread, “What the hell?” department, was the appearance of United Nations’ special envoy on Cyprus, Dolly Downer, on Lateline the other night.

    To quote this retired politian and newly appointed peace broker.. “Well, I know the Defence department and I know the people there, after all it’s only 15 months since we were the Government. And I know only too well this proposition that somehow the Defence department is spying on Mr Fitzgibbon is absurd.”

    Then came the bit in his ramble about his old blackberry and laptop to prove the madness of spying claims that the “Canberra Times”, bluntly, later reported in these terms… “FORMER foreign minister Alexander Downer has confirmed that officers of the top secret Defence Signals Directorate have access to the IT systems in the offices of senior federal ministers.”

    The big duffer admitted that DSD could well have been all over Fitgibbons private dealings, because that is ‘the way things are done’, but that they just would not be interested in such petty personal matters because “the people in DSD are incredibly sophisticated and honourable and decent people”.

    After a lot more of the ‘putting in of the boot’ about the funky gibbon, he said…

    “I mean, I know this ’cause I know a lot of people in the Defence department, having been the Foreign Minister for a long time: there is no confidence in Mr Fitzgibbon in the Defence department. They think he is a poor and he is a weak minister, and Mr Rudd would be better off changing him and putting somebody in there who has the confidence of the Australian Defence Force and the defence civilians.”

    So the kind of people who are gladly spilling the beans to Dolly, and god knows who else, about Fitzgibbons “incompetance” would never do anything to destabilise the ministers position. Gawd, talk about bloody “absurd”. Would this dill return to Cyprus forthwith.

  4. Lefty E

    Yeah BBB, i dont much like any of it – Turnbull’s low rent assault, or Tanner’s silly retorts. I’m actually not convinced the whole free-trips-to-china is actually cool and above board. Id have walked him if I was Rudd – and THEN sent in the biggest headkicker I have on the frontbench to roger those defence wankers.

    Thats the other disturbing part – these guys get most of the federal budget, and evidently think they’re above reform. Well, thats the attiutde that 3rd world militaries tend to get – so heads should roll bigtime as a warning. Id be shooting at least one high ‘forced resignation’ across the bow of the rest of em.

    And finally, this inglorious episode highlights the complete destruction of all doctrines of Ministerial accontability and responsibility under John Howard. The Libs cant even complain about this in good faith – as it was they who killed it- stone dead. And when an oppositon has hamstrung itself in this way – well, cheers Rodent for your ongoing contribution to oz democracy. Twat.

  5. myriad

    My personal hope out of this business is that it hardens the Rudd Gov’t resolve to reform Defense, starting with some serious budget cutting and accountability.

    every other gov’t department has to provide scrupulous records of monies spent, Defense is the only department allowed to get away with massive expenditure stuff-ups, waste, failed audits etc.

  6. Liam

    Izquierdista, I don’t think Rudd’s going to walk Fitzgibbon either, at least until there’s a chance for a more general reshuffle. If we can’t have a new Minister, let’s at least have a new aggressive, cost-cutting, head-kicking Defence Secretary.
    I nominate Max Moore-Wilton.

  7. David Rubie

    I wouldn’t be holding my breath myriad – there are two central tenets to western style democracy: the banking system cannot fail, defence departments are sacrosanct. Fitzgibbon, like Peter Reith, didn’t go native so he has to go. His replacement will of the “Bomber Beazley” camp or more shenanigans will follow. When was the last time, despite lots of high profile disasters in Defence, that a high ranking public servant or service officer was actually sacked? They are untouchable and have no hesitation in playing the “unpatriotic” card against anyone who dares question their authority. Compare and contrast with the ATO, whose senior jobs are always under threat.

  8. The Intellectual Bogan

    Dolly might actually be right.

    After all, if DoD do spy on ministers, they might have noticed $300m going to someone other than them a few years ago and got a bit annoyed about it.

  9. Geoff Honnor

    I think the “yellow peril” assertion is a pretty shameless diversionary tactic.
    There’s a clear case for examining the relationship between Ms Liu and Fitzgibbon. It may be that she’s just a pleasant person who enjoys making large, no-strings donations to the NSW ALP Right but flying to China, First Class on Xmas Day, with Joel, at her expense, does seem extraordinarily neighbourly – and it was extraordinarily forgetful of Joel not to be able to recall it.

    Of course, the NSW ALP argues vehemently that donations from developers do not result in preferential treatment and it may equally be the case in this instance. Whatever, I’d certainly like to hear a bit more about it.

    It’s perfectly possible to foster good relations with China while being aware of the reach of Beijing’s overt and covert influence. Revelations in the wake of the defection of the former PRC Consul in Sydney a couple of years ago showed the extent of this as did the passage of the Olympic Torch more recently.

    Being aware is not the same thing as believing that every Chinese person is automatically a spy or that hordes of Chinese are about to invade and I can do without the government’s confected histrionics on this point. However, one of the reasons Gillard and Tannner do it is because Turnbull is guaranteed to take personal umbrage at imputations of racism and get diverted off into defending his honour and he has done so – like clockwork – again.

    It isn’t racist to enquire as to why Rudd sought to keep a visit from the Chinese Propaganda and Ideology Minister quiet (I assume because the Minister has a distressingly clunky job title that doesn’t lend itself to the sort of collaborative, nations united kind of press releases that the PM specialises in) and Rudd is not the Manchurian candidate simply because he speaks Mandarin and seeks constructive dialogue with China.

    Cold showers all round.

  10. joe2

    “I nominate Max Moore-Wilton.”

    Great choice. Who needed security personnel at Sydney Airport anyway? Highly paid executives/brass is all you need to run anything, anyway.

  11. myriad

    I fear you’re right David, but I’ll light a candle for the faint hope that the anal -control freak- bureaucrat in Rudd won’t stand for this kind of treatment.

    And christ, looking at how serious the cuts to other government depts are shaping up to be, to essential services that Australians rely on, and probably including job losses, it’s time Defense also bore some of the pain. Anyone informed knows that to do so won’t compromise Australia’s security one jot, the dickheads in that Dept have already done that with their breathless ability to pick loser projects worth billions over and over again.

  12. myriad

    excellent comment Geoff Honnor. I’d also like to know why Rudd met with the Head of Security for the Chinese on the quiet. A very quick look at China’s human rights records shows that this is not a pleasant office, and probably not a pleasant person in it. This is not to say we shouldn’t talk to such people, but keeping it quiet is, well, disquieting.

  13. Fine

    Yep, good post Geoff. Really, can anyone believe the ‘I forgot’ defence? You’d laugh if a 10 year old used it, much less a government minister.

  14. Andrew E

    So, Rudd is heading into the Hawke-o-sphere in terms of polling. Given that no amount of sucking up to the right will work, Turnbull has only one choice: moderate policies and me-tooism, just like Andrew Peacock did in 1984. Came within a whisker of knocking Hawke off and might have done it in 1987 had the Libs not chosen the wrong leader.

  15. jamo

    After listening to the coverage over the weekend the point that I thought stood out was this. Defence wouldnt have put their top intelligence people onto investigating him if they didnt think there was a sufficient reason. I want to know what was the reason. What information did they have that led them to waste time and money on this.

  16. Robert Merkel

    Jamo: there’s no evidence to suggest that “they” (whomever “they” is) actually put their “top intelligence people” on to investigating him.

  17. Geoff Honnor

    “Defence wouldnt have put their top intelligence people onto investigating him if they didnt think there was a sufficient reason.”

    The point is that Defence didn’t direct anyone to investigate him.

  18. Sean

    I think the ALP is more likely to at least partially reform the Department, for various reasons.

    Somthing’s obviously got to be done. I read this morning that DoD hadn’t previously factored the cost of maintaining new equipment into its budget projections. The jaws of small business-people around the nation hit the floor.

  19. Sean

    Oh re Andrew’s comment, “Mee-tooism” is a media phrase, which might otherwise be called supporting good (or at least popular) policy. It didn’t actually lose Rudd any points with the electorate in ’07 but, as with the right to privacy, some things just won’t sink into a journalist’s head. When it comes to good government, the media are often like arms dealers at a peace conference.

  20. joe2

    “The point is that Defence didn’t direct anyone to investigate him.”

    Geoff, how do you know that for a fact? I thought the matter was still under investigation.

  21. ramhead

    This business about “secret” meetings with Chinese officials has got me puzzled. At least one report today in the SMH today indicates that the Chinese media were all over the visits, which leads me to wonder if the outrage over “secret” meetings is really driven by the fact that the Australian media has been caught out not doing it’s job of, y’know, finding stuff out.

  22. adrian

    I suppose that there’d be the same level of confected outrage if the meetings were held with representatives from the US or UK. Just because a friggin’ press release wasn’t issued, doesn’t mean the meeting was secret.

    Suggest some commentators look up the word secret, and then compare it with not publicised, and then have a cold shower.

    And why they’re at it they can tell the rest of us how they have such insight into the DoD that know the result of an independent enquiry before it has been finalised.


    BBB @ 2

    Would like to know where Wayne Swans “yellow peril” press releases are.
    I’ve checked his website: http://www.treasurer.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2008/009.htm&pageID=003&min=wms&Year=&DocType=
    No mention of yellow hordes. Perhaps you can enlighten us all with the “press releases” you have been reading.

  24. Geoff Honnor

    “Geoff, how do you know that for a fact? I thought the matter was still under investigation.”

    Yep. I should have said that defence leadership has categorically denied directing/authorising any investigation into Fitzgibbon’s relationship with Liu.

  25. joe2

    Further to the point adrian [email protected] Barry Cassidy and Chris Uhlman were able to report on this so called “secret meeting” that Rudd had with the Chinese official, immediately after it happened.

    Maybe the local press are just pissed off because they did not get the invite to capture a money shot of Rudd shaking the propaganda boss to ‘commie him up’ later.

  26. myriad

    maybe ‘secret’ is the wrong word, but the meeting with the Security Chief, and one of China’s most powerful men, charged with being responsible as just one eg for the brutal crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators recently, is no doubt something that the Australian government was quite keen to keep quiet.

    The fact that the Chinese press were all over it might point to journalistic laziness here (at least that they don’t read Chinese press), but I think it more illustrates how the governments saw the meeting in terms of public perception. For the Chinese Pr point of view it was a prestigious meeting offering legitimacy in a controversial area of their domestic activities; for the Rudd government it was perhaps something rather icky from – didn’t see any nice grabs from the Ruddster about pushing human rights with his illustrious guest, did we?

  27. fat freddy

    You’ve got to love Barry Cassidy!!! On the Insiders he sneered that the reason Rudd might have kept the meeting secret is so that he wouldn’t have to tell President Obama that the last person he talked to before him was the head of Chinese propaganda dept. Is BC seriously suggesting that US intelligence would have missed one of the lead stories on Chinese state television and even if the Chinese had attempted to keep the meeting secret that US intelligence services would still not have been aware of it given their vast array of technological and physical surveilance resources and once known would not have told the President as a matter of course. What a sinister sneering prat he is.

  28. Jacques de Molay

    I was waiting for Downer to comment on all this. Has there ever been a more incompetent Minister to not lose his job than him? I just knew the sheer front and audacity of the guy would allow him to forget all about AWB. I don’t buy The Advertiser on Monday’s the day he has his much ridiculed column in there but I do get Tuesday’s paper and love reading the numerous complaints about Downer’s bias and leaving out a few important facts that don’t support his wafer thin arguments. I’d be surprised if he didn’t go after Fitzgibbon in todays paper.

    Insiders is a putrid show. The last few weeks Piers and Bolt have made absolute fools of themselves yet everyone seems too gutless to get stuck into them and their extreme opinions. It’s one thing to have right-wing opinions but a whole nother thing to basically imply everything is a left-wing conspiracy. Typical Bolt to not bring up his “the earth has been cooling for a decade, how do all you Earth Hour suckers now feel?” rant until the arse end of the show. It’s pretty sad when not only has the reach of News Ltd corrupted the ABC so badly but that one turns to Sky News for more “balance”.

  29. Geoff Honnor

    I don’t think the issue is about a “secret” meeting – it clearly wasn’t.The point being made on Insiders was that a meeting between Rudd and a member of the PRC politburo would normally be strip-mined for headline gold by Rudd’s office. This one didn’t even rate a mention by Rudd’s office – an unexplained departure from standard practice (against a timing context) which was always going to pique media curiosity.

    freddy, I think that “sinister, sneering prat” is about as wildly inaccurate an assessment of the Cassidy persona as I’ve ever heard. He does have a couple of them on the show from time to time but…..

  30. joe2

    “What a sinister sneering prat he is.”

    Yep, he is part of the Australian Propaganda Department sometimes under cover of The Free Press.

  31. Guido

    Regarding ‘The Insiders’ I wouldn’t be so harsh. It is indeed putrid but I think is the pen where the conservatives are given free range on the ABC. Maybe when Janet Albrechtsen and Keith Windschuttle are booted off the ABC Board the Insiders can be terminated.

    I don’t know why Barry Cassidy is toeing the conservative milieu. He was worked as media adviser for the ALP, maybe he wants to balance the ledger.

  32. Mervyn Langford

    I think this is an excellent time for us to look carefully at sacking the Minister for Defence. Perhaps he should be given one last task though. Prior to walking out of the office for the last time, if he’d be so kind as to completely disband the said “Ministry of Defence”, have all munitions irrevocably decommissioned and all the hardware melted down. Perhaps turning it into shovels and forks, crowbars, etc – that is: really useful things that everybody needs. I’m reckoning with the potential imminent collapse of international trade, we might all have to start learning how to do these sorts of things. And I think we could all feel a whole lot safer. Those who don’t, can make an appointment with their local shrink – refundable under Medicare! Medical consults are cheaper and easier in helping people with insecurity and paranoia problems, than threatening war on others.

  33. Caroline

    Top idea Mervyn. Really. Our buddies in the States will surely (?) come to our aid, when the yellow peril finally arrives. Better still give the ministry to a woman and it should only be a matter of time before it becomes apparent what a stupid, vicious, loopy, cycle, the whole concept of a DOD is. Such a bloody euphemism. Defence! Pah! Call it what it is, a Department of Offence and Murder.

  34. Bingo Bango Boingo


    Try this ludicrous one: http://www.treasurer.gov.au/DisplayDocs.aspx?doc=pressreleases/2009/029.htm&pageID=003&min=wms&Year=&DocType=0

    I would hope that I don’t have to explain the subtext for you. And since when do you have to ‘[explicitly] mention yellow hordes’ to play the ‘yellow peril’ card. Give Australian politicians some credit.


  35. Nickws

    BBB, so Swannie nixing the foreign purchase of an Oz company (the same thing Costello did with Woodside Petroleum, IIRC) is playing the xenophobia card?

    I don’t see it. And I doubt that anyone who isn’t a free-market purist, desperate to smear any govt. policy they disagree with, would.

    BTW, David Spears on SkyNews gave Julie Bishop the opportunity to distance the Libs from all the old ‘Manchurian Candidate’ bullshit and the best she could come up with was, “Well, I wouldn’t be the first to use the expression ‘Manchurian Candidate’.”

    I didn’t read anything as remotely yellow-perilesque in the link you provide above.

  36. tssk

    Geoff is right. Completely. The popularity of our Prime Minister is beside the point. The legality of the investigation is beside the point. The needs to be looked into further.

    And if Rudd won’t do it maybe the Governer General can appoint someone who can.

  37. Nabakov

    Perhaps one reason that Shanghai Joel doesn’t appear to be making a dent in the polls is that most Australian don’t regard China as a threat. After all we’ve made more money out of them than the Yanks, they make our Plasma TV sets and have not inveigled us into any wars without apparent end. Plus they invented yum cha. Yellow Peril? Pig’s arse! (“Sorry. Not on menu tonight.”)

  38. pablo

    I don’t disagree Tssk, but I think Malcolm Turnbull also got to meet the PRC propaganda chief too. Hastily arranged perhaps and brief and perhaps in retrospect from the Opposition’s POV a mistake. Mal (and the PRC) would probably put it down to protocol being fulfilled.

  39. Patrick B

    “Yep, good post Geoff. Really, can anyone believe the ‘I forgot’ defence? You’d laugh if a 10 year old used it, much less a government minister.”

    I don’t know about that Fine. Judging by the outcome memory loss, incompetence and stupity seems to have worked well for all those members of the former govt that took part in the AWB fraud. You must have been cacking youself for a whole month.

  40. Nickws

    “I wouldn’t be the first to call him the Manchurian Candidate,” are old Sunburn Bishop’s exact words, as Lateline’s opening bit just told me.

    This is a reponsible critique of the PM’s overseas trip, how?

    This is what a responsible Opposition says in response to a minister’s failure to disclose four-year-old gifts?

    (And now we have ABC tory stenographer Chris Uhlmann reporting on Rudd’s ‘highly unusual’ seating arrangements on a BBC interview show! Lawrence Harvey strikes again!)

  41. steve at the pub

    Anyone still flogging the dead horse of AWB “fraud”, time to change hands. It wasn’t considered bad at the time (except for a few soap-dodging fringe conspiracy theorists, or the odd morally bereft political opportunist) and it ain’t going to fly any higher now. Successfully selling Aussie wheat, under UN control, isn’t considered a bad thing by adults whose feet are on the ground and whose bread is buttered in Australia.

    Ducking off to China, at Christmas, leaving the wife & kids behind, and letting a woman pay for you, THEN forgetting all about it……. … … … one would have to move in really weird circles for this to not warrant closer scrutiny.

  42. steve at the pub

    The squalid little jobsworth is named Joel Fitzgibbon, and the problem seems to be that he is getting out so often he forgets who paid & how many trips he made.

  43. Bingo Bango Boingo

    Come on Steve, it’s a storm in a teacup. ALP Right takes money from Chinese businesswoman. Ho-bloody-hum.

    “…letting a woman pay for you”

    Um, WTF?


  44. Benedictus

    Queensland Pineapple Party wholly funded by man known to be Associate of Chinese Government in Australian mineral exploitation activities. Political party nepotism evident in selection of infant son of Chinese Associate as Party Candidate.

    Perhaps there are a couple of elements in that that might deserve more than the cursory shoulder shrugging glance they have been given by our fearless truth seeking media.

  45. Nickws

    It wasn’t considered bad at the time (except for a few soap-dodging fringe conspiracy theorists, or the odd morally bereft political opportunist) and it ain’t going to fly any higher now. Successfully selling Aussie wheat, under UN control, isn’t considered a bad thing by adults whose feet are on the ground and whose bread is buttered in Australia

    I love how the Right in this country can’t whack-off about the UN-food-for-Oil scandal lest they admit AWB was bad.

    I think of it as a tiny piece of Australian exceptionalism…

  46. thewetmale


    AWB “fraud” … It wasn’t considered bad at the time (except for a few soap-dodging fringe conspiracy theorists, or the odd morally bereft political opportunist) and it ain’t going to fly any higher now. Successfully selling Aussie wheat, under UN control, isn’t considered a bad thing by adults whose feet are on the ground and whose bread is buttered in Australia.

    And why are we having a go at those Bikie types, all they’re trying to do is run small to medium sized businesses. Typical Labor types, all they want to do is destroy jobs.

  47. Chris Grealy

    The conservatives have many priors for racist remarks, and destroying reputations for some short-lived political gain. It is truly stomach-turning to see them at work again.

  48. Chav

    “…with the Opposition getting a bee in their bonnet about the evils of Communist China…”

    And yet they were more than content to let their mates in the mining industry make a fortune in trade with the evil ‘Chicom’ whilst through the AWB ensuring a regime they actually at war with was all cashed up.

    Speaking of dealing with the evil overlords behind the Bamboo Curtain, I’m surprised they are actually still in power after the flowering of democracy we were told was the pay off for participating in the Beijing Olympics…

  49. Paul Burns

    Somebody should remind these Reds under the Beds-Yellow Peril-Manchurian Candidate Liberals that under them we had a Washington Candidate for 11 years, when their erstwhile leader REALLY DID put American interests before Australian interests. And Rudd/Fitzgibbon/Swan are certainly not putting Chinese interests before Australian interests.

  50. mehitabel

    I’m contemplating starting a ‘leave Helen Liu alone’ movement.
    It’s despicable that being born in China, being a successful businesswoman, and renting your flat to a potential Defence Minister are apparently crimes in this country.
    If we all sit back and just let the media ‘do her in’ than we’re complicit in the treatment she’s receiving.
    It’s fair enough to troll through Fitzgibbon’s affairs. He’s a politician, and alas, scrutiny – fair or otherwise – comes with the territory.
    The treatment of Helen Liu is something else entirely and (to go all Howard on you) any decent thinking Australian should be doing all they can to put an end to it.

  51. Paul Burns

    If you start a Facebook Group, I’ll join it (if you let me know it exists). (Can’t do it myself because I don’t know how to.)

  52. myriad

    Sorry Mehitabel, yes I know this is in the Aus, but there’s enough in this article to make me a) quite sure that Helen Liu doesn’t require any help and b) be very disquieted about the strong ties. (If true) It’s not the military ties that concern me as much as the emphasis on aiding efforts to oppress the Falun Gong and She has been praised for donating patriotic education material to schools in areas of China with heavy populations of non-Han Chinese people, such as Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. She also meets the top Chinese leaders who visit Australia, where she was photographed in 2002 toasting Li Peng, the former premier widely considered responsible for the brutality of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989.

    And personally, I don’t have much time for any politicians who allow themselve to be courted in the way that Helen Liu clearly has many of our senior politicians.

  53. Mervyn Langford

    It also comes to mind that our former Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Federal Country Party – Doug Anthony – rented a 3 story house in Canberra (was it $1 a week?), from none other than a man called Schilling (? I’d have to check that spelling). From memory, this gent was a US citizen and some big wig in the US Embassy in Australia at the time. Some nasty people amongst us, did say he was head of the C*1*A at the time – but obviously that wasn’t right as the C*1*A has never had any personnel in Oz. Obviously, nothing untoward about it though – Doug was a good, decent, God-fearing man who would never do anything his masters didn’t want him to. I met him at a party in the late 1990’s wearing a beautiful silk shirt from Vietnam: “Lovely country” he said. He tells everyone they must go there – such nice people, he says. “Well Doug, why did you and your American buddies try to bomb them back to the stone-age?” But I digress.

  54. mehitabel

    I am also facebookly challenged – anyone out there willing to help?

    Myriad – interested to see your evidence that any politician has allowed their association with Ms Liu to influence them in anyway. (Unlike Howard’s brother’s bailout, the push for ethanol mandation coming from a Howard croney in the sugar industry, the sudden promotion of nuclear power after a Howard trip to the US, and several other close business relationships which influenced JWH’s decision making).

  55. numbed

    Mervyn: Richard Stallings?

    Mentioned in the Australian media in the heat of the Supply crisis, Oct/Nov 1975.

    At one point it appeared PM Gough was threatening to make further disclosures about a CIA presence here. I think he asked for a list of agents.

    Would Kevin Rudd ever ask the Chinese Embnassy for a list of its covert agents? Difficult…..

  56. Ginja

    Malcolm in the Middl….sorry, Hansonite Right

    It’s great that the government has pulled Turnbull up on this. The thing with this dog whistle politics is that it’s only effective when no one blows the whistle on it. If someone spoils the fun and does blow the whistle, you’re left looking like the tawdry extremists – or cynical opportunist – you actually are.

    Hence the feined innocence and indignation by the opposition. And this kind of cutesy, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth racism-lite probably isn’t all that effective without the big megaphone you have in government (Howard loved the ambush and manufactured crisis).

    It’s obviously an attempt to paint Rudd Labor as being too close to Asia. One of the things Howard picked up on and used skilfully was an uneasiness that Keating was too close to Asia. Problem is, Australia in 2009 is – demographically alone – a much different place to Australia in the ’90s.

    All it’s probably doing nowadays is making any lingering moderate Libs who somehow haven’t given up on the party become even more disgusted (after all, Malcolm is supposed to be one of them).

  57. Ginja

    ..oops, I meant feigned indignation.

  58. adrian

    The other aspect of this that the commentariate have failed to pick up on (if the ABC is any guide) is that people are sick to death of the carping, opposing for the sake of it opposition, that have no solutions, only negativity to offer.
    As a result people simply tune out of what they are saying because it is all negative.

    It is a trap that oppositions can easily fall into, but one that Rudd cleverly avoided. Turnbull is making the mistake of thinking that any publicity is good publicity, but in the age of information overload this is a dangerous mistake to make. Mind you, he’s probably being advised by Michael Brissenden or someone similar, who’s totally isolated from you know, reality.

  59. joe2

    It is interesting that the individual who initially sent matters spiralling from Joel and the defence department, onwards, to the yellow and perilish has so far escaped attention on this thread.

    Joe Hockey take a bow.

  60. Paul Burns

    Ah, well, Joe Hockey. Now we know why Howard picked him as Minister for Workchoices. More of the birds of a feather analogy I alluded toon another thread. Hockey has perhaps got away with this, as, to an extent has Bishop with her Manchurian Candidate crack, because we really don’t expect any better of them. They’re Howard neophytes, Minchin strawberries picked to keep the RWDB flim-flam flame alive (couldn’t help myself there). Malcolm’s problem is, perhaps, that we expected him to be more rational, fairer, not racist, not a millionaire somewhat more sophisticated Howard clone. But he’s proved he is.
    Which goes to show my old man was right when he told me as a kid, you can never, never trust the Liberal Party. Menzies’ children, indeed.

  61. myriad

    Mehitabel, I said ‘being courted’, I did not claim any evidence either way that Liu has influenced buddy Joel or all the other politicans she’s been actively courting.

    I presume however that you are not so innocent as to think such a strong propogandist and influential member of the Chinese international community is offering out generous financial and in-kind support & ego-pleasing attention to major politicians because she thinks they need charity and are suffering low self-esteem.

    That she happens to be Chinese -Australian isn’t the issue. This goes for any citizen with very obvious strong and active ties to their previous country’s government and it’s efforts to influence its relations and perception overseas. The amount of intimacy and strength of obligation she has tried to establish via gifts etc. is inappropriate for any public offical or politican to be party to. If nothing else it opens up the perception of improper influence.

    I’d also point out that the kind of influence I do think it’s fairly obvious someone like Liu is trying to gain is not of the sort that leads dodgy relatives to end up with domestic contracts. It’s of the sort that convinces Australia’s government to increase military ties with China, soften our stance against Chinese human rights abuses and support Chinese positions in international forum. This is not trivial.

    Personally I think that our politicians should be bound by legislation and code of conduct to something with a lot more similarity to that which binds me as a public servant through the Public Service Act & code of conduct. It’s not about political partisanship, its about undue influence or the perception thereof, including the acceptance of gifts etc.

    I doubt if I told you that I work for the Dept. Immigration in visa processing (I don’t to the latter bit) and accepted two free flights to china from a prominent chinese-australian businesswoman you’d be very convinced of my impartiality when processing visas from china relevant to her area. why a different standard for our politicians, who’s decision-making power is much greater?

  62. Ginja

    Paul Burns picked up on something interesting. I just mentioned moderate Libs (an oxymoron, I know) and there was a lot of talk a few years back about “doctors’ wives” supposedly being deeply uncomfortable with direction Howard took the Libs. Yet I’m willing to bet that if you looked at the 2001 election data – the Tampa election – you’d find that many “doctor’s wives” swung to the Libs in the same way that the outer suburbs did.

  63. mehitabel


    I think you’re being a bit twee with your word definitions but that’s your perogative.

    As a female — and indeed, as a politician, even if only on a small scale – I’ve been courted ‘against my will’ – very difficult to reject gifts and favours without causing offence, something pollies are loath to do.

    The other point I would make is that these gifts were made at a time when Fitzgibbon was basically nobody. I realise it’s not beyond the realms of credibility that Ms Liu was taking a punt that one day he might be important but the Occam’s razor argument says its easier to believe he was a family friend. (My mother, no importance to anyone – potential or otherwise – has had similar trips paid for by family friends. They’re millionaires, it’s chicken feed, they like to have her company, gives the wife someone to shop with).

    As for Ms Liu’s supposed importance – I beg your pardon? I think the only thing she’s been linked with are a couple of social groups and making a toast at a dinner. You could MT’s resume and link a couple of past associations from that and make him look a very suspicious character if you wanted to. If ASIO doesn’t have a file on her, she’s a nobody.

    The reason pollies are made to declare gifts is to keep the whole thing transparent, so that if they do make favourable decisions as a result the bias is easily detected.

    Anyway, enough of your red herrings. My concern here is the ‘smear by association’, which you apparently are quite happy to buy into. I have seen nothing in the media that suggests there is any reason to slur Ms Liu by suggesting she is any kind of spy or agent for the Chinese. Thus attacks on her are inherently racist and beneath contempt.

  64. darin

    I’d bet your mum remembers the free trips she got, mehitabel. Probably without even a legal requirement to list them.

  65. mehitabel

    I’ve always thought Fitzgibbon was absolutely stupid to answer the way he did – the question was so specific that a good pollie would instinctively scent a trap (remember a Labor senator in the senate praising the then-Mining Minister for his work promoting the copper industry? and then, when the muggins agreed he’d done them an awful lots of favours, pointing out his considerable interests in this area?)

    However, I’m not sure Fitzgibbon qualifies as a ‘good pollie’ – safe seats don’t tend to breed them. I have no idea whether he’s a good Minister for Defence.

    Mrs Liu, however, should not be blamed for his lapses of memory.

  66. Jane

    Ducking off to China, at Christmas, leaving the wife & kids behind, and letting a woman pay for you, THEN forgetting all about it……. … … … one would have to move in really weird circles for this to not warrant closer scrutiny.

    Bet it didn’t cost $300m of taxpayers money, though SATP. And would it have been OK if it was Ms Liu’s husband who paid?

    And I reckon you’d have to move in really weird circles if, knowing that $300m had vanished from the public coffers and the relevant minister just couldn’t remember anything about it, didn’t warrant a great deal more concern than it got from the then government. But then, $300m……meh, just loose change.