December 23, 2003


Plastic beer alert:

The Prime Minister has visited the Solomon Islands today, to pass on his Christmas greetings to soldiers and other Australians serving there and deliver beer.

He told the soldiers, sailors, police and other Australians there that they had helped the country overcome law and order problems.

"I want you to know that your country is aware of the sacrifice you're making, aware of the separation from your families and is very appreciative of your efforts," he said.

To help the troops and others celebrate Christmas, Mr Howard's plane delivered beer donated by two Australian breweries.

That announcement was greeted by strong applause.

While we’re talking about plastic, turkey specialist Alan Ramsey is hailed by SMH reader Charles Bailey:

I always read avidly Alan Ramsey in the Herald. I carefully note the nasty bits, the character assassinations, the language. Then I decide. Whichever politician Alan hates, I vote for. Whichever politician Alan loves, I avoid like the proverbial plague. It's a wonderful system, and has never failed me yet. How does he do it? More power to Alan's typing fingers - he's a national treasure.

Posted by Tim Blair at December 23, 2003 07:06 AM

First, an over-refreshed PM piles into an elevator full of drunken rugby fans and leaves his security behind. Next, he flies beer to your troops serving overseas. After having the cojones to take a vigorous role in the war in Iraq he's looking like my kind of guy. Is there any chance you can loan Johnny H. to Canada for a while? Just long enough to clean house, or at least for a few pints, then you can have him back.

Of course i take credit for all this. I was in Aus. when he got elected the first time. My good vibes made it happen. PIP PIP!!

Posted by: matt at December 23, 2003 at 07:27 AM

I have the same ease in deciding issues as Charles Bailey. I live in Washington and if Jim McDermott or Patty Murray is for it, I will be against it. It's so simple.

Posted by: Ken J at December 23, 2003 at 07:44 AM

Tim, do you know which breweries donated the beer?

I will make a particular effort to drink their beer this Xmas.

Posted by: The Mongrel at December 23, 2003 at 07:44 AM

This is from Crikey, maybe top speech of 2003.
The Hon. DAVID OLDFIELD: It angers me to a degree that so much attention is given to the green agenda with respect to native vegetation. I am awaiting advice from the farmers on their approach to the bill. I understand that this evening and earlier they have been working closely with the Hon. Duncan Gay. If things go according to plan, I will certainly support any motion to defer the bill, probably some time next February, to allow further negotiation before the matter is finalised.

What spurred me to come down here from the work I was doing upstairs in my office was the bleeding-heart posturing and dishonesty of Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans with respect to Aboriginal history and culture. I like the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans but sometimes he speaks nonsense. I acknowledge that the Aboriginal people, as a people in the past, are an anthropological oddity and are no doubt significant and worthy of study. However, I find it abhorrent that Aboriginal land councils should be consulted on these matters or even that Aboriginal land councils should exist. It is also nonsense that they should be consulted on matters such as native vegetation.

They have nothing of any import to offer in the way of consultation. Perhaps the House should be reminded that prior to white settlement Aboriginal people, through their various practices, ignorant as they were, managed to wipe out approximately 500 species of flora and fauna - that is, make it extinct. I challenge the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans to one day explain what it is in Aboriginal culture that is so worthy of preserving and teaching. The Aboriginal civilisation, if it could be referred to as that, is Stone Age. What aspect of the Stone Age is the Hon. Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans suggesting is noteworthy for Australians today? Apart from anthropological study and historical knowledge, there is nothing that can be offered. Aboriginal culture and its teaching helps keep Aboriginal people living progressively in the past. It does not serve Aboriginal Australians in any way to keep on pretending they are in some way special. They are no more special or less special than any other Australian. For them to waste time on their language and other
teachings does not help them.

How on earth, in any practical sense, does anyone think the teaching of Aboriginal language will help an Aboriginal person? It is hard enough to appropriately teach children in our schools today the proper use of English without wasting time with Aboriginal languages, however many there are. Their history is a simple matter. The same thing happened day after day for thousands of years. The only thing unique about the Aboriginal people is that they never got out of the Stone Age, and without intervention never would have. When it comes to this nonsense of theft of land –

The Hon. IAN WEST: It's frightening, isn't it?

The Hon. DAVID OLDFIELD: Yes. I agree with the Hon. Ian West. It is absolutely frightening that this myth continues to pervade society.

When it comes to this nonsense of theft of land, Aboriginal culture does not even recognise land ownership. And had white settlement not come along, what would the Aboriginal people be doing with the land today? They would be doing the same as they had always done: hunt, fish and set it on fire. Aboriginal people need us to help them make it into the twenty-first century. As Australians, this continual separation of them as a different group to the rest of us just holds them back…

Posted by: Michael Casey at December 23, 2003 at 08:47 AM

The stories I've read about PM Howard make me envious that he's Australian. The guy has balls, seems very approachable, and can make a good on-camera presentation. He also seems to act in the best interest of Australia, even if those actions aren't very popular. A true leader.

The US could also use a few more just like him. This is no crack against Bush. Bush is fine. But, we need more people to stand up and do the right thing.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at December 24, 2003 at 07:45 AM