Crossing the Gulf on the Matilda Highway

Travelling solo with few vehicles on the road it was a lonely drive. Thank God nothing went wrong with the Rangie

Camped at Eagle Nest near Sharks Bay WA

You can just see the glow of my laptop where I was working on a clients web sIte in Tassie hosted through servers in Dallas Texas. As good an office as any!

Whales off the NW Coast

A pod of about 20 whales come fast from astern and passed either side of the yacht, frightening hell out of us.

Fire on the road

No flames apparent so I hardly slowed down until I had travelled a hundred odd meters with no visibility. About the time I started to panic I came out the other side.


Latham Debrief

Like many before him Latham only fixes half the problem. Tales of having to walk to meetings in the absence of local transport were common enough twenty years ago. So to were the ?Crash through or crash? remedies.

Mike Steketee mentions Latham’s first foray into political leadership;

After becoming Liverpool’s first popularly elected mayor at age 30, he did his best to correct the imbalance, embarking on an extensive building program that included two libraries, a heated swimming pool, a recreation centre and a revamped arts facility.

Noble sentiment but who?s going to pay for the fix?

It was one sign of the Latham style translated into action. A conventional mayor would have proceeded more cautiously. Latham’s legacy was $36million worth of new facilities but a deficit that prompted an expression of concern from the auditors and required the council to seek special permission to breach the annual rate ceiling of 2.7 per cent and hike rates by 8.1 per cent.

Australia will never recover from Whitlam’s excesses and the poor old rate payers of Liverpool have a similar problem.

He promises to tone down his language. He shouldn’t have spoken the way he did in the first place. The bridges are burnt and don’t think US Ambassador Schieffer?s public utterings of ‘…looking forward to working with’…reflect US thoughts on the matter. Schieffer is being diplomatic but the Yanks will be concerned.

Many commentators reflect on Latham’s right wing tendencies.

Frank Devine muses;

I was nudged towards Latham in the lead-up to yesterday’s caucus by, paradoxically, Robert Manne writing in The Age that if Latham were the man, Labor would “abandon interest in Aboriginal reconciliation” and “demonstrate a growing contempt for what Latham calls the left-wing ‘rights agenda’.” Splendid news, I thought.

I found his violent excesses from the frontbench…uncharacteristically gauche;


However, the member for Werriwa strode off in an encouraging direction on his leadership debut yesterday. “I am in favour of upward mobility through hard work,” he declared at his first press conference. In 10 words he gave Labor a philosophy the party has been unable to articulate for a decade.

If Latham can put this into practice, he will have demolished the politics of envy and effortless entitlement with which the lesser middle class has infected Labor.

Some problems.

The Left are going to hate him and this is potentially destabilizing. Watch Carmen (I can’t remember) Lawrence at the ALP conference in January. Carmen and her warriors, all with sword in their left hands, will be attacking and trying to turn the ALP further left. Latham has to steer down the middle or veer a little right to have an impact on the electorate.

I don’t believe he has a good grasp of economics. I see a tendency to balance the inequalities of life with cash deposits when the system itself needs repair.

Give a man some fish or teach him how to fish doesn’t seem to register with Latham. His time as Liverpool Mayor reflects this and his time with his hero and most everyone else?s fool, Whitlam, will have reinforced the mantra of ‘spend the money, fix the problem and let the Conservatives pick up the huge bills.

Given the above, watch his minders spend time and money on remaking his image. Remove the intemperate language. Only quote policies that have been thought out by Caucus (that will be hard) and lets see what transpires.

Latham Wins

Latham by two votes (47 to 45)

If Martin Luther King had a dream, I have nightmare. Latham leading Australia to insignifience via embarrassment. I accept youth , vigour and aggression but the subject has to be house trained first.

Walter Mittys under seige

People fraudulently claiming to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman could face six months imprisonment under proposed laws passed through the House of Representatives today.

Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence Mal Brough said anyone falsely claiming to be a returned service man or woman should face the force of the law.

“It’s a disgraceful act that warrants a strong penalty,” Mr Brough said.

“Many Australians have served our country proudly and wrongly claiming to be a veteran is an insult to those men and women.”

Along with a maximum prison term of six months, the fine will increase from $200 to a maximum $3,300.

The Defence Legislation Amendment Bill also increases the penalty for the wearing of medals to which an individual is not entitled.

There are a lot of Walter Mitty’s in the world and I’ve met quiet a few myself. Some years back, post Army, I had a framing business that specialized in framing medals and memorabilia for veterans. One day, after returning from picking up stock, my son Stuart told me of an order for replica medals that included the Vietnam War group with a Military Medal. Whereas I couldn’t claim to know the name of every Military Medal winner from the Vienam War the name on the order definitely didn’t ring a bell so I sent a letter requesting details of his actions that earnt the bravery award.

The reply came with supporting letters attached, supposedly written by an Officer at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane. It was all wrong. The paper was wrong and the language, the staff writing, was wrong. I read his own statement where he claimed to have been in an attack in 1971 where he single handedly assaulted a bunker system killing several occupants with a bayonet. His platoon Commander had been wounded and this man had definitely saved the day.

Admittedly, he didn’t know who I was or who I knew – He lucked out. In his statement he named the Platoon Commander as Gary McKay.

As it happened the day I received his answer was the scheduled day for a Regimental Happy Hour at Enoggera Barracks. I phoned Gary McKay, and old aquaintance and friend and confirmed he was going to attend. I also asked him what he was doing in 1971 on the date mentioned in the reply.

“In hospital in Australia recovering from wounds.” He said

That night I had a beer with Gary, the Platoon Commander of this supposed hero, the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the Battalion at that time and the Chief Clerk, all of whom denied any knowledge of my Walter Mitty.

The following week he called demanding to know where his medals were as ANZAC Day was approaching. As a result of this conversation, somewhere on the Gold Coast lives a man in fear of his life. A different form of PTSD

We veterans have a lot of problems with these people and have a network and website that records posers. Often referred to as Wannabees we are onto them.

I wonder if we could get the anti-Veteran Left and wannabee veterans together in one paddock – maybe next Vietnam Veterans Day. We could have a chat.

Hat tip to Gary of Gravett fame and Defence Media Centre

UK gets tough

While the debate about illegal asylum seekers rages in coffee shops and the media in Australia it is easy to forget that the UK has a much larger problem. The Weekend Australian has an article that lays out their response to the problems.

Asylum-seekers in Britain face being electronically tagged or kept under satellite surveillance instead of being held in detention centres, under new government proposals.

Reducing legail aid and curbing opportunities to challenge decisions in the High Court are just the start.

In a further attempt to prevent lawyers and applicants from prolonging cases, a judicial review will be allowed in appeal cases only under certain circumstances. There will be no judicial reviews allowed of decisions that an asylum-seeker or illegal immigrant must be removed.

In future, immigration officials must take into account when considering an asylum application whether the applicant has any travel documents. An applicant faces two years’ jail for failing to provide a good explanation for not having the documents.

Makes sense to me. Arrive on our shores without papers and no valid excuse then go straight to goal and face extradition on release. That could go a long way to stopping the practice.

I think we need follow up on some of these points. Legal aid to non-citizens is very questionable and an invitation for our legal brothers to print money. Earlier this week the press quantified this legal aid at $40 plus million dollars last year, money that could well be used on Australians in trouble.

Deja Vu?

Beasley, Latham or Rudd.

Latham will never get my vote nor a lot of others after his ‘arselicking’ call in the house. I also notice the Unions don’t want a bar of him either.

Rudd blew his free plug in the Bulletin when Maxine McKew starts the her piece with this;

“I’m a Jeffersonian separatist,” says Kevin Rudd by way of explaining how he reconciles his faith with his approach to public policy. We’re passing the small wooden-framed Anglican church of St John’s in Oxford Street, Bulimba, in the heart of his ?Brisbane electorate of Griffith. Rudd, along with his wife, businesswoman Therese Rein and their three children, worship here every Sunday.

Jeffersonian separatist…mmmm..every votor should get that one. The ALP need maths and economics, not prayers. The first paragraph sounds too much like the Greens holding hands in a circle and chanting ohmm..ohmm..ohmm.

Even as Foreign Affairs shadow he’s only talking UN.

On the role of the UN, Rudd says: “The contrast between ourselves and the government could not be more clear-cut. We say the way to prosecute the 21st century is through a reformed UN charter which maintains an international rules-based system with new provisions to do with self-defence and intervention on humanitarian grounds. This is the most critical question in international relations today. What are the new rules? It ain’t theoretical. But what’s the ?government say? They say the UN is dead and that it’s full of namby-pamby pinko lefties driven by Third World dictators. So what’s the alternative? I’ve issued this challenge to Downer. But the response has been zero.”

Downer’s response is much more than zero. He says it’s driven by Third World Dictators and it is. In its current form it is useless and the Third World dictators sure as hell are going to fight any attempt by Australia to change it.

Mm….Beasley. Been there done that but might have to go back and do it all again.

Good luck!

Iraq and Vietnam

An article by Joe Galloway places the Iraq/Vietnam wars in perspective. To me, Joe Galloway is believable as he reported the Vietnam War from the bush and not some comfortable hotel in Saigon. He was at the battle of Ia Drang, the basis for the movie We Were Soldiers Once, and Young and now he’s covering the present Iraqi situation as the head military correspondent and a sydicated columnist for Knight-Ridder Newspapers.

Streams, in Texas knows Galloway personally and I’m indebted to him for the link.

Galloway starts;

First, let’s examine the big differences.

They don’t fight to unify their homeland, but to regain a brutal minority’s power over an enslaved majority.

They have no Ho Chi Minh to put a kindly and photogenic visage on their campaign.

They don’t have a China or a Soviet Union to pump in weapons and ammunition and carry the ball for them in the United Nations and internationally

They don’t have the sanctuaries that afforded easy shelter and protection for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. No Cambodia. No Laos.

It’s the similarities that make you sit up an notice.

Go read the article here. It’s not too long.

The Soldier of the Future

This from Defence Media

Defence Minister Robert Hill today unveiled two innovative Defence industry proposals for equipment that will enhance the safety and fighting capability of the soldier of the future.

The first is a miniature personal power generation system that can be used to power the combat systems used by soldiers on a modern battlefield, such as night vision goggles, mobile computers, communications equipment and thermal imaging weapon sights. The Personal Generation System is the concept of Melbourne-based technology firm, Tectonica Australia Pty Ltd.

“The ‘Generette’ will have enough power for three days at a time, will recharge in minutes and weigh only one kilogram,” Senator Hill said. “Less weight to carry and an assured power supply will mean the soldier can be deployed more effectively for extended periods.”

The second proposal involves the development of small helmet-mounted sensors that will help the soldier to detect the source of enemy weapons fire and respond more effectively. The Acoustic Threat Localisation System is the concept of Canberra-based Pacific Noise & Vibration Pty Ltd.

“The initial concept is a miniature acoustic system that will detect sniper, mortar and artillery fire allowing the soldier to respond and counter these threats,” Senator Hill said. “The system will be developed further to detect larger weapons fire, vehicles and aircraft through helmet-mounted displays.”

I’m pleased this technology is being sourced in Australia but it kinda makes me think my soldiering days were in the last century….hang on, they were.

The Luddite in me blinked

I hate following the crowd but Movable Type was simply to attractive. The look was attractive but the technical knowledge required to handle the change was decidedly unattractive. Appeals to the better nature of Gary of fame bore fruit and I am now forever in his debt…well at least until I can think of a suitable payback….thanks a lot, mate.

I will resume blogging, or should that be movable typing, later today.

The Voice of Reason

To counter the sagging spirits of my last post I point you to a voice of reason in the Aborigine debate. Gerhardt Pearson is executive director of the Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and has a piece in this mornings Australian

Straight to the core of the problem.

Two issues are vital to every family and every household: managing money and education for the children. Restoring social order and confronting grog and drugs are a prerequisite to our plans in those two areas.

It was a mistake not to draw alcohol out of the long list of “underlying issues” and elevate it to the highest priority after the royal commission. And it’s unfortunate that criminologist Don Weatherburn’s points were not prominent in the debate at an early stage: the high rate of offending is the cause of the high rate of indigenous incarceration, not bias and discrimination. And diverting indigenous people away from the prison system is not an efficient way of reducing incarceration if it only adds a few rungs at the bottom of the ladder that leads to prison.

He leads the debate away from left wing ‘victim mentality’ and heads upstream to defining the real problem in the first step towards finding a solution……..the high rate of offending is the cause of the high rate of indigenous incarceration, not bias and discrimination. How radical….How true.

He then goes on to confirm the opinion of millions of reasonable Australians. Education is the basis for the break-out.

The next challenge is to provide seven years of quality and uninterrupted primary education. Then we will send our children to high-quality, high-expectation boarding schools. Our vision is for our children to be bicultural and bilingual or multilingual. We want them to embark on what we call orbits, where they see Cape York communities as their home base, and they orbit to Cairns or Sydney or New York in pursuit of their education, employment and careers.

Good God! He also suggests work ethics are important as well as reading.

But it is amazing what my illiterate mother and Bible-reading father could achieve. They made sure we children went to school and learned to work, and they constantly told us about the importance of reading.

Truly, his is the voice of reason and yet we still have the misguided screaming for land rights. The land rights of the last four generations of my bloodline (and the following one, I might add) have been based on hard work, saving and scrimping to educate kids and to buy land.

Hard work, education and a saving program.

The rock on which land rights and nations are built.

A Feel-good Story?

A feel-good story to lift your sagging spirits. Reported in todays Australian

As a 10-year-old station hand, George Musgrave led government men across his Cape York ancestral lands, pointing out the waterholes and good grazing spots that would serve generations of white graziers on Lakefield Station.

Standing on the ravaged fringe of Saxby Lagoon — an important story place for the Kuku Thaypan people — he can only shake his head at the 73-year-old legacy of that folly.

Twenty years after Lakefield Station was declared a national park, the banks of the lagoon are a deeply pockmarked quagmire from wild pigs and cattle. The ground is barren from overgrazing.

The Qld Parks and Wildlife Environment Protection Agency web site claim that Lakefield’s traditional owners, the Lama Lama, Kuku Warra, Kuku Yamithi and Kuku Thaypan, are closely involved in managing the park and have been for some time.

The legacy of Georges folly is not that the graziers ruined the land but that it has been ruined by inaction and poor management procedures since the land was resumed 20 years ago.

The Parks and Wildlife have been managing the park with help from Kuku Thaypan and others over the last 20 years so what have they been doing? If George is trully stressed he could have done something to save his sacred land over those years but what has he done?.

In a word – nothing.

For those of you who don’t travel outside your southern triangle comfort zone I must point out that the feel-good reports you read in the press about national parks and indigenous input are often a long way from the truth.

I went through Lakefield two years ago on the way to Cape York and for three sleeps I wondered where the park rangers were – didn’t see one. Saw a lot of signs of pigs, both bovine and city based non thinking 4 wheel drivers, lots of obnoxious weeds, a couple of crocs but very little else. Camping fees paid into a post boxes to stop tourists bothering the undermanned Ranger Station. The Parks and Wildlife people have a fairly good labour-free money collection system but you’d have to drive around a lot to find any signs of that money going back into facilities.

Victor Steffenson, the architect of the traditional knowledge website, says Low Lakes is a perfect example of the synergies that exist between traditional land management and modern conservation agendas.

Synergies! Give me a break. Traditional land management consisted mostly of burning. Not a bad thing in itself but meaningless by itself and the fires in the ACT, NSW and Victoria are proof that burning/backburning is not on the agenda while Greenies hold any sway in land management.

When it was a grazing property the managers were obliged to keep on top of the obnxoious weeds and cull the pigs as often as they could but now the land has been reclaimed none of these land management procedures are employed.

Parks and Wildlife seem more into good business practices than good land management and every state government knows that every station resumed is another Greenie vote and if you think the Kuku Thaya chaps are going to clean up the place under the leadership of George Musgrave then think again. Work isn’t in the 5 year plan.

More sit-down money is.

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