June 11, 2004


How many supporters of the government will change their vote because Peter Garrett has joined the Labor Party? Barely any, I’d guess, unless conservative voters secretly yearn to support a standard-issue enviro-leftist made wealthy through an ability to sing while suffering grand mal seizures.

Yet delusional Michael Leunig imagines that the government is terrified by Garrett’s ALP membership. On the contrary; Garrett is a gift, as his continued stumbling over the vote-enrolment issue demonstrates. Meanwhile, inspired by Garrett’s Pine Gap backflip, Mark Latham is now reconsidering his position on withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq:

A Labor government would consider leaving troops in Iraq to protect diplomats, federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.

Mr Latham has previously outlined a timetable for Australia's withdrawal from Iraq under a Labor government, saying he hopes to bring soldiers back by Christmas.

UPDATE. We may have another Garrett backflip. Maybe even a double-backflip. Here he offers his opinion on sales of public property:

The selling off of any public property - whether its Telstra, a water board, a part of a forest, a part of the coast, a part of Australia's natural or financial heritage - really bothers me.

So you’d expect Garrett not to purchase any public property, right? Liz Tickner reports in today’s West Australian:

The singer and conservationist lives in Mittagong, in NSW's Southern Highlands, in historic Rowe Cottage, the former boys' home he bought for $425,000 in 1995.

Mr Garrett has refurbished the property and, coupled with soaring property prices in the highlands, it could be worth $1.8 million to $2 million.

And from whom did Garrett buy this historic cottage? From the NSW Department of Community Services, which offloaded the formerly publicly-owned site as part of a widespread sale of assets by the department during the mid-’90s:

The Hon. R. D. DYER: The first point is that the full value of the sales of assets is retained and not lost, either partially or wholly. The agency retains the full value. I am advised that the total figure is an estimate at this stage. However, subject to completion of sales, approximately $5 million will be realised from the disposal of various properties, depending on the outcome of the sales - that is always tinged with some uncertainty. Some of the principal properties involved are Lark Hill and Rath at Campbelltown, estimated to produce $2.6 million; Collier Street, Redhead, near Newcastle, $185,000; Rowe Cottage at Mittagong, a transaction that has been settled and has produced $487,000; Warne Street, Wellington, $230,000; a portion of Renwick at Mittagong, a transaction which has also been settled and has produced $700,000; Jones Street, Moree, also a settled transaction which has produced $34,000; Oriana Street, Coffs Harbour, not a completed transaction but estimated to produce $240,000; and the final major item is Ironbank Road Muswellbrook, estimated to secure $215,000. The larger properties have not been included because it is not anticipated they will result in a sale in this current financial year.

Having secured his ex-government highlands property, Garrett apparently opposes anybody else doing the same:

One estate agent said that a NSW Government proposal to rezone surplus Department of Community Services land across the road from Rowe Cottage into residential blocks could reduce the value of his rural retreat.

Not surprisingly, Mr Garrett is a vocal opponent of the Carr Labor Government's rezoning proposal.

It really bothers him.

UPDATE II. Mark Latham on Labor's culture:

Labor's culture is deeper and more durable than that of other parties. We demand from our members a long and testing apprenticeship before they can run for public office. There is no walk-in, walk-out way of serving working people. It takes a lifelong commitment.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 11, 2004 02:52 PM

What is the record for backflips in a week by members of the same party?

Posted by: Dylan at June 11, 2004 at 03:10 PM

Huh? He doesn't REMEMBER for sure whether he voted in the referendum??? Or in the 98 and 96 elections???

And this guy wants to run for friggin' Parliament?!? This is a sick joke of Latham's.

Posted by: ABC Al at June 11, 2004 at 04:06 PM

Not to take anything away from what is a very nice piece of hoisting someone on their own petard, but the use of the term 'backflip' in this context (and in every other political change of heart) bothers me.

When you perform a backflip, you end up facing the same direction, not a completely opposite one, as the use of it as a metaphor would imply.

I demand a new cliche!

Posted by: attila at June 11, 2004 at 04:08 PM

property is theft!! put the capitalist pig garrett up against the wall!!

Posted by: roscoe at June 11, 2004 at 04:34 PM

Rowe Cottage eh!

I have many a memory of the boy's homes (which had a lot of girls in it by the way) in the Mittagong area.

When i was a teenager, the local soccer team didn't have enough players for the U16's. The coach, a local policeman, organised for approx 7 of us to play for "Southwood" as it was known then, with the boy's home kids. It later became known as "Renwick". "Rowe Cottage" was one of the LARGE houses used as residences for the kids. They attended the state High School at Bowral.

Here I was, an immature 15yr old, going to school at a Catholic College, playing soccer with kids who had been abandoned by their parents, or removed from their parents, or placed there by the courts etc. I spent 3 years amongst these kids and it was a bloody great experience, and it helped me grow up somewhat.

After 3 years I changed clubs, however I had earnt the respect of these kids, and how I respected some of these abandoned kids. They were far from being angels, but we stood by each other.

Maybe I am looking at this through rose coloured glasses, but i was saddened to see the complex (which was comprised of a number of residences out of town, such as Rowe, and 2 cottages in town), sold, and Renwick closed down.

Maybe the the "boys home" concept is no longer socially correct, but at least the kids there had a hope.

PS - The 2 cottages in town, were in the block up from my parents house, and are now owned by Frensham Girls School.

PPS - I used to laugh then at the positioning of an elite girls school, the "dregs" of society, and a good working class residential area sitting side by side. Bloody amazing things you see in a country town.

Posted by: DaveACT at June 11, 2004 at 04:42 PM

Interesting additional information on Pete's electoral difficulties via Ken over at Troppo Armadillo.

Posted by: James at June 11, 2004 at 04:56 PM

I am enjoying the story of Peter Kernot immensely. The ALP is imploding in front of our eyes. Wonderful.

Mr Latham should remember the first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging.

Posted by: Toryhere at June 11, 2004 at 05:04 PM

"Grand Mal seizures". ROFLMAO Good one Tim.

Posted by: Dog at June 11, 2004 at 05:37 PM

Nonono, Go Mark --> Petes the key for election sucess, people don't want a good economic situation and national security we ALL want populist drivel topped off by self important cult-of-personality leadership.

Don't forget that there are still more people left to recruit, David Hicks could be back soon and he knows so much about Americans you should put him in charge of DFAT.

Bilahl Khazal is another top bloke that people love, hes got it all (looks, glamour and media savvy) put him up too.

Posted by: JBB at June 11, 2004 at 05:39 PM

Oily Pete's explanations don't add up. The voter has to ask for a Ballot, which is handed to him by an electoral official. The official has to cross off the voter's name and each ballot paper has to be accounted for. Electoral fraud (voting early, and voting often) can be checked later (in terms of sheer numbers of fraudulent votes)- but nothing can be done about the result, as no-one can establish which ballots cast for which candidates were fraudulent. Of more importance than failing to vote is another question: did oily Pete cast a vote to which he wasn't entitled? ... and is his limited intellectual capacity a reasonable excuse for so doing?

Posted by: tripebuster at June 11, 2004 at 05:45 PM

Good to see the Labor party is staying true to their values.


Posted by: Quentin George at June 11, 2004 at 06:10 PM

a standard-issue enviro-leftist made wealthy through an ability to sing

Er, Tim, have you ever listened to Garrett? Describing that demonic mewling as "ability to sing" is being exceedingly generous. More like Lou Reed crossed with a car horn.

Posted by: Sasha Castel at June 11, 2004 at 06:32 PM

"Yet delusional Michael Leunig imagines that the government is terrified by Garrett’s ALP membership."

Perhaps Leunig is delusional. But, judging from the amount of breathless villification issuing forth from this and other right-wing blogs at the moment, you guys seem to be worried about something. It seems like a disproportionate reaction for a political non-event. By contrast, the pre-selection of Steve Georganas in the marginal seat of Hindmarsh (SA) that I live in has attracted little comment at this site. So I draw my own conclusions.

I guess we are also meant to assume that no other politicians have ever sought to disassociate themselves from their previous positions in an expedient fashion. But, hang on...didn't John W Howard, when he returned to the Liberal leadership in 1995, jettison his opposition to Asian immigration, and Medicare, and compulsory superannuation contributions, and constitutional conventions, and...the list goes on? Ronald Reagan began his political career as a liberal Democrat whose role model was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, architect of the New Deal, the ultimate big-government program. And don't get me started on George W ("I don't believe in nation building") Bush. Did you guys get out the tar and feathers for them?

Perhaps only right-wing politicians are allowed to mature and evolve and manoeuvre themselves into more politically saleable positions. Apparently left-wingers who try the same thing are just hypocrites and not to be trusted.

Posted by: tim g at June 11, 2004 at 06:34 PM

Whaddya mean "an ability to sing"? The man has no vocal talent whatsoever. I watched his 'performance' at the Olympic (prounounced 'Ullimpic' it seems) opening ceremony. Talk about embarassing - cringe factor of 10/10. The fellow is a first-rate pseud.

Posted by: walter plinge at June 11, 2004 at 06:41 PM

But Tim, the public property/zoning issue would only matter if Garrett was standing as a man of principle, with firm committments to some unshakeable beliefs - which he obviously isn't.

Wasn't it Chesterton who said that the problem when people stopped believing in God wasn't that they then believed nothing, but that they's believe anything?

And it all raises the question that if you're not after Garrett because he's a man with high profile, oft expressed (with great force) "principles", why ARE you after him? Because he has "energy"? Hitler & Mao had a fair bit of that as well, and a similar cavalier attitude to discarding inconvenient previous statements.

Posted by: Waste at June 11, 2004 at 07:30 PM

And, further on the voting issue - reading "tripebuster"'s comment above, the only way you wouldn't be sure if you'd voted was if you were so hazy on the voting process that you didn't really know WHAT went on inside a polling booth, like you would be if you, for example, had NEVER been in one. I had a long discussion on this once with a bloke who'd never been on the electoral role - reflecting on this has convinced me that Pete is just making it up as he goes along and may have never exercised his democratic francise.

Posted by: Waste at June 11, 2004 at 07:43 PM

I had an uncle like him; a paid up member of the [Aus.] communist party. He owned a farm and a sizeable share portfolio. How do they do it?

Posted by: Paulm at June 11, 2004 at 08:23 PM

Did anybody ever do any research into this drongo's background before deciding to parachute him into a safe Labor seat?

The Libs are going to have a field day with the the ammunition that has been unearthed already, and this is only the FIRST DAY of his exposure to political reality.

I am starting to seriously wonder whether the nomination of this clown is part of a secret and devious VRWC plan to discredit Mr Latham. (not a difficult job)

Effie: "How embarrassment!"

Posted by: Pedro the Ignorant at June 11, 2004 at 10:36 PM

But, judging from the amount of breathless villification issuing forth from this and other right-wing blogs at the moment, you guys seem to be worried about something.

tim g, TimB the proprieter of this blog, has voted Labor many times. He's previously expressed support for Latham because of his pro-market views, too. I've also voted Labor many times, and one of the things I like about Latham is that he has in the past expressed support for the free-market.
It could be that the amount of commentary Garret's appointment is generating on the 'right-wing' blogs, so-called, is due to the fact that people dislike the influence that extreme left-winger such as Garret, with simplistic 'America - bad, Kyoto - good, Reconciliation - good' views , are influencing the party that floated the dollar, paved the way for Pay television, and supported America in the first Gulf war.
It could also be that we're disgusted at the blatant hypocrisy in Garret's sudden Pine Gap backflip (and everybody I've spoken to about this - left and right - have agreed that it is appalling).
And it could be that you've made the basic mistake of carrying your prejudices about right-wingers into this blog, and made a foolish statement.
Could be.

Posted by: TimT at June 11, 2004 at 10:38 PM

Let's see: He flip-flops on issues, lies about his past record, and believes making lots of money is proper for him but not for others.

It's the Kerryization of Australia! Good luck to you, mates!!

Posted by: c at June 11, 2004 at 11:21 PM

Tim T:

This "so-called" right-wing blog is a right-wing blog. I don't think Tim B would object to the description.

I think you have missed my main point. I agree that Garrett's reversal on Pine Gap is unprincipled and opportunistic. But he's not the first politician to shed his skin for political expediency. I just wonder why he's such a target for virulent condemnation on this score, when other notable back-flippers on the other side of politics get much more gentle treatment. (If you want to argue this point, do a search on "Malcolm Turnbull" in Tim B's archives and see what you come up with.)

Methinks that the righteous outrage about Garrett has a distinct partisan tinge. I would mischievously suggest that if he had joined the Liberal party (I know it's far-fetched, but he is a millionaire property-owner - it seems like a better fit to me ), many of his current critics would be praising his "backflip" as evidence of a laudable mellowing and maturing process - in much the same way as someone like Tim B views his own political evolution.

And as for your fear of Garrett dragging the ALP further to the radical Left; this makes no sense at all. Which one is he - a political opportunist willing to junk his principles to further his career prospects, or a committed hard core socialist foot-soldier? If he's the former, the Labor caucus will fit him like a glove. If the latter, he will be on the cross-benches with Bob Katter in no time. Either way, you can relax. Personally, I incline to the view that a millionaire property owner with kids in a private school is probably not going to pursue the socialisation of capital too vigorously. Don't be surprised if he eventually joins the Right faction.

NB: "paved the way for pay television?" Have you seen any pay television recently? I wouldn't be dispensing any praise for the people responsible for this.

NBB: What is it with all these guys called Tim? (Bear in mind that you can throw in Tim Dunlop as well.) What is about our Christian name that makes us such argumentative buggers?

Posted by: tim g at June 11, 2004 at 11:48 PM

mate its gotta be worth a laugh envisioning it though Say Latham creeps over the line,every doodah nutflake from thehard left unions,the dry toilet greens to the 'give it back' crowdgoin to be tryin to shirtfront the labour right factions and the pragmatic ;whatever it takes' party men.Its gonna be a hoot.

Posted by: cugel at June 12, 2004 at 12:11 AM

Latham will get one term and one term only.
Wondering how much economic damage can he inflict compared to Gough.Its going to be a funny old year.

Posted by: cugel at June 12, 2004 at 12:20 AM

Damn, you beat me to it, c...

Posted by: Roger Bournival at June 12, 2004 at 01:39 AM

You would have said it better, Rogier.

The least I can do is correct my wording above: Kerry "believes HAVING lots of money is proper for him but not for others". I forgot that Kerry married (twice), rather than generated, his fortune.

Did Garrett hit the music industry jackpot?

Posted by: c at June 12, 2004 at 02:35 AM

Re: the cottage. That's SOP. A conservationist is someone who inherited his parent's cabin in the mountains. A developer is someone who wants to build a cabin in the mountains to leave to his children.

Posted by: Les Jones at June 12, 2004 at 04:11 AM

Or as they say in California, an environmentalist is someone whose beach house is already built.

Listening, Ms. Streisand?

Posted by: Parker at June 12, 2004 at 08:29 AM

Peter Garrett is the Australian version of Barbra Streisand.

Posted by: JeremyR at June 12, 2004 at 08:29 AM

Mark Latham on Labor's culture:

"Labor's culture is deeper and more durable than that of other parties. We demand from our members a long and testing apprenticeship before they can run for public office. There is no walk-in, walk-out way of serving working people. It takes a lifelong commitment."

Good thing for Hillary "No experience/No residency required" Clinton that the New York State Democratic Party isn't as hard assed and nit-picky as the ALP!

She never even got elected to a local school board in NY (or anywhere else) and yet she's now a US Senator with an eye on being President!

Posted by: JDB at June 12, 2004 at 08:40 AM

JDB, bite yer tongue! ;-)

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 12, 2004 at 09:06 AM

Latham will get one term and one term only.
Wondering how much economic damage can he inflict compared to Gough.Its going to be a funny old year.

Hmm? Reprise of the 70s?

Will this mean...

Latham = Whitlam
Cairns = Peter Garrett
Costello = Snedden
Abbott = Fraser

Posted by: Quentin George at June 12, 2004 at 09:58 AM

I agree with ABC Al's point about Garrett's voting record.

Catherine McGrath in that "AM" interview (wronly identified in the transcript as Alexandra Kirk, by the way) didn't press him as hard as she could have. You can't tell me that Garrett would not be able to remember *immediately* whether or not he voted in the republic referendum.

Itis almost certain that the man is lying about his voting. He hasn't bothered for 10 years. Great way to start off - already lying to the public when confronted with a difficult fact.

Posted by: TFK at June 12, 2004 at 11:55 AM

Appropos of an earlier Garrett thread, thanks folks for the heads up on the name of the Warumpi Band.

I looked 'em up on amazon and can get a couple of CDs although they're a bit dear (imports, y'know).

Slightly off topic; as you know, Ray Charles has died. He was a friend of President Reagan and earned howls of outrage for playing the Republican Convention (as did James Brown).

(Aretha Franklin later sang for Clinton but pissed off the animal "rights" crowd for wearing a fur
coat! heh!)

Anyway, now he's passed on in the same week as Ronald Reagan but none of the media want to bring up his Republican sympathies in his obituary because Black America is supposed to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Democrats, Inc.

God bless President Reagan and God bless Ray Charles!

Posted by: JDB at June 12, 2004 at 12:10 PM

And what about Kirribilli? Isn't that another piece of govt property that Lacker Latham wants to sell off?

Posted by: murph at June 12, 2004 at 04:44 PM

Well, Garrett may change my vote, but that's only if we are certain to see gibbering idiocy of Whitlamite proportions. Sadly, a Labour government is just as inevitable at some stage in the future as another large-scale islamic terrorist atrocity. I see it as a form of vaccination - a painful but brief bout of Labour government spearheaded by America-haters, terror apologists, tax thieves and environ-mental extremists, probably accompanied by another large-scale islamic terrorist atrocity, would help remind people just why they elected a conservative government in the first place. This would ensure, much as the Carter, Whitlam and Callaghan governemnts did, a long period of conservative government afterwards, even if those conservatives are nominally centre-left.

Posted by: Clem Snide at June 12, 2004 at 04:46 PM

And what about Kirribilli?

Latham doesn't want to sell it off, he wants to open it to the public as some kind of museum or something like that.

Posted by: Robert at June 12, 2004 at 05:48 PM

Peter Garrett's flip flops?. Must have a short memory.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2004 at 12:27 AM

I've voted in every election be it local, state or federal, including referenda. Now i've not been in the political arena as has el stupido garrett but I would imagine that if I had of been that I would have definately remebered if i had of voted, not a maybe. He's a fucking liar !!!!
As for Malcolm Turnbull, well you lefties may want to claim hypocracy, but the rest of us wish he'd gone to labor. He and bald boy garrett would have had lots in common.
Garrett will no doubt make a great Labor parliamentarian, he's already got the lying down pat so it will say on the training expenses. Now all he has to do is learn how to swallow...

PS JBB, that was fucking hilarious

Posted by: scott at June 13, 2004 at 01:28 AM

Hey, if Latham wants to sell off landmarks and historical sites, I'm in!

I've got these great plans for the Uluru (Ayers Rock) Gated Apartment Complex! It would be one of the world's biggest. And all that adjacent property for parking and megamalls!

Posted by: richard mcenroe at June 13, 2004 at 03:27 AM

Given descriptions of messiah Pete are prefaced with 'law/lawyer', can anyone tell me what actual law he has practised...? What firm he used that law in, what partnerships he gained, what Bar he was accepted to...? Just wondering.

Posted by: just another fuckin' cabbie at June 13, 2004 at 06:15 AM

just another fuckin' cabbie:

Peter Costello fought the famous Dollar Sweets case.

Posted by: 2dogs at June 13, 2004 at 08:37 AM

Last night I went to the James Brown concert in Chicago.

The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, asked the crowd to join him in a one minute silent tribute to Ray Charles and Ronald Reagan (I am not making this up).

JB during one of his songs, sang (if that's what you call it) "Ronald Reagan" in place of the normal "lyrics". And no, it was not to "Sex Machine".

Now, for those of you in Oz, who don't know much about Chicago, it is NOT a city kind to Republicans, and yet, despite the party atomosphere and usual partisanship, the concert venue was silent as was asked of them.

This was followed by an hour or more of full-on James Brown soul power.

Jump Back, Kiss Myself!

Posted by: MeTooThen at June 13, 2004 at 05:20 PM

Very funny 2dogs, maybe I should have stipulated 'boring old fart, ageing rock star Pete'.

Seriously though, has not Garrett only ever used his knowledge of the law to vet music contracts, purchase public property etc. His (mis)understanding re - his legal responsibilities with the electoral roll, would indicate he is a puesdo lawyer only.

Am I right or wrong...?

Posted by: jafa at June 13, 2004 at 06:53 PM

Let's not forget Peter Garrett's valiant efforts of a few years ago to protect us all from lower CD prices in Australia. We must be eternally grateful.

Posted by: Geoffm at June 14, 2004 at 12:15 PM