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October 2013

The beer-coaster had no more space to include developments like this for the NBN

How did we end up with Conroy and Rudd picking the best telecoms technologies of the future?   They made a pretty big bet, using your money, that fibre to the home was it and a bit.   No other technology matched it and it was essential we get it lest we get "left behind". 

Apparently some in the telecoms research and development caper didn't get the message to stop further developments.   They continued to research and develop other stuff, like making copper wires carry much, much more data at much faster speeds.

It's a pretty compelling (and predictable) economic case when you look at how much copper wire is already in the ground.    The owners of those copper cables have a big interest in funding R&D to make the copper work better.   And they have.  This report slipped through the censors at the Sydney Morning Herald.

Broadband vectoring is real and it works: Alcatel chief

Amsterdam: Described as “pixie dust” by former communications minister Stephen Conroy, vectoring, a technology that helps make copper broadband networks faster, has been defended by the managing director of telco equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent in Australia.

Vectoring is a variation of VDSL2, currently the most advanced technology for delivering broadband services over the telephone network. It is said to turbocharge broadband on copper networks to enable download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) using noise-cancelling technology to minimise interference from wires running in a bundle. Add in technology, likely to be available in a number of years, and copper could reach download speeds of up to 1.3 gigabits per second at distances of around 70 metres.

If fibre-to-the-node was deployed at distances of 70 metres with VDSL2 vectoring and, similar download speeds as promised under Labor’s NBN could be achieved, said Alcatel-Lucent’s Australian managing director Seán O'Halloran.

Already, the Coalition has indicated it is likely to use vectoring to complement its fibre-to-the-node network. Alcatel-Lucent is keen to provide such services to the NBN rollout.

“It’s not fairy pixie dust. It works. There’s a secret to it. It does work - absolutely it works," Mr O'Halloran said suggesting Senator Conroy made that statement in the early days of the NBN planning, when vectoring hadn't yet been proven viable.

“And there was a trend if you go back three-four years ago, a lot of operators [were] looking at pushing fibre out as far as they could.”

That had since changed, he said, with a number of telcos using a mixed bag of technology and moving away from a majority fibre-to-the-premises rollouts.

“The world has changed, especially here in Europe,” Mr O'Halloran told IT Pro last week.

“There’s been some financial imperatives and some great research and development in that access technology. So it’s changed.”

What was the War Memorial Council thinking? Remove God and replace with the Word of Paul Keating.

The Australian War Memorial Council decided at its August meeting to remove the words "Known Unto God" from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.   They decided to replace the reference to God with words taken from a speech given by the Labor Deity Paul Keating.


The Australian War Memorial exists because of the work of returned men and women determined to remember their mates.   In particular it's through the efforts of the 1st World War official historian and correspondent Charles Bean that we are even having this discussion.   Here's what he said about his War Memorial.

Charles Bean

In Bean's words "here we guard the record which they themselves made".

This is the record our diggers made on the crosses that marked the graves of men who were unable to be identified.  The phrase "known unto God" was their phrase, written at the time for them and of them by Rudyard Kipling.   Originally on wooden crosses, then on marble as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission replace the wood with more permanent headstones.

Known unto god

Here's the unbelievable report in today's The Australian

Word of God lives on unknown soldier's tomb in War Memorial

THE Australian War Memorial has abandoned a proposal to remove the words "known unto God" from the Tomb of the Australian Unknown Soldier after the personal intervention of Tony Abbott.

The memorial's governing council decided at its meeting in August to replace two inscriptions on the tomb at the Canberra memorial with words from a speech by Paul Keating.

The memorial's director, former Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson, announced the changes in an unscripted National Press Club speech six weeks ago on a day when attention was focused on the swearing in of the new government.

It was several days before Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson was notified about the plan in an incoming briefing by his department.

Senior government officials say Senator Ronaldson wrote immediately to the AWM Council's chairman, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, expressing "extreme displeasure". He noted that the words had appeared on the tombstones of unidentified soldiers from the Commonwealth since World War I. It was only after a phone call from the Prime Minister to Dr Nelson that a compromise was offered by the council under which the words "known unto God" would be retained.

Mr Keating's moving eulogy to the Unknown Soldier was delivered by the then prime minister on November 11, 1993, when the remains of a World War I soldier recovered from the Western Front were interred at the memorial.

Dr Nelson said it was his idea to put Mr Keating's words on permanent display in the Hall of Memories, marking the 20th anniversary of the speech.


Here's a link to the full list of the Council's members. 

You'll find a list of the AWM's corporate documents here

The AWM's Freedom of Information log is here.   It includes this note about an FOI application seeking copies of the  minutes of one of the Council's meetings.   It says this:

. The minutes are part of the National
Collection and are therefore available
under the Archives Act through the
Memorial’s Research Centre -

I'd be obliged if someone in Canberra today was able to drop in to seek a copy of the August 2013 Council meeting minutes.   I'd love to let you know who said what. 

While they're at it, why not jazz up the Last Post?   It's a bit dour and old-school isn't it?   Surely something written by the trumpet player Louis Armstrong would better represent the War Memorial Council's commitment to diversity and the promotion of a forward looking Australia For All Of Us.

The people who made the plan to remove the historical words used by our diggers are vandals.   They have no place as stewards of our most sacred national memorial.

Rest in Peace.

UPDATED The Sydney Morning Herald could have told us a bit more about their international relations expert Dr Fernandes

The most read article on the Sydney Morning Herald website is this one - here's the headline.

Tony Abbott's ALP criticism could affect US links

The man who tells us that Tony Abbott's comments could affect US links is Dr Clinton Fernandes. The SMH says:

International studies expert Clinton Fernandes told Fairfax Media Mr Abbott’s comments to the Washington Post left behind an image of “courseness (sic), amateurishness and viciousness”.

Mr Fernandes, an associate professor of international and political studies at the University of New South Wales, said Mr Abbott’s predecessors, including John Howard, “would never have done any of this stuff, ever”.

“President Obama would never have made similar comments about his Republican opponent Mitt Romney in this country,” Mr Fernandes added.

This video interview between journalist Tim Lester and Dr Fernandes features in the story.

Nowhere in the video or published story does the Sydney Morning Herald disclose Dr Fernandes's background with the Australian Army, East Timor and the Howard Government.

In 1999 Captain Fernandes was an Intelligence Officer with the Australian Army as we deployed to East Timor.   His specific expertise was Indonesian/East Timorese intelligence and he had produced a very explicit synopsis of the Indonesian military's plans to retain East Timor. 

During 1999 a large amount of intelligence material relating to East Timor and events leading to its independence from Indonesia was leaked to the press, much of the material that was leaked had been created at Captain Fernandes's desk.

As The Age reports:

This was Australia's biggest leak of secret defence and intelligence information to the media. While not of the same scale as WikiLeaks' recent publication of US diplomatic cables, the 1999 East Timor leaks involved numerous highly sensitive documents, many classified "Top Secret Codeword", a much higher security classification than any of the WikiLeaks material.

THE EAST Timor leaks were always going to create political turmoil. Their effect was to call into question the Howard government's truthfulness as it dealt with East Timor's move to independence from Indonesia.

The journalist Philip Dorling describes being raided by police seeking evidence on the source of the leaks.   He writes:

That same morning AFP agents also raided the home of a friend, Captain Clinton Fernandes, an army intelligence officer based in Sydney.

Fernandes was suspended from duty pending further investigation. After a long inquiry he was reinstated and promoted to the rank of major. He has always denied being the source of the leaks.

Dr Fernandes was suspended from the Army for 12 months and was the subject of much controversy and investigation.   If it was me and I was innocent I would be very angry.   And I don't think I would be able to provide a balanced commentary about conservative governments for a very long time.

Here's Clinton Fernandes's partner Deb Salvango talking to Australian Story about her partner and his army colleague Lieutenant Colonel Lance Collins.

DEB SALVANGO, CLINTON FERNANDES' PARTNER: After the raids, Clinton was put on 12 months suspension. There were no charges laid against neither Clinton nor Lance in relation to the leaks.

LT COL. LANCE COLLINS: You know, someone in Canberra decided to take me and others out in regard to that Federal Police investigation.

DEB SALVANGO, CLINTON FERNANDES' PARTNER: What happened to Clinton and to Lance was...the military and, the Department of Foreign Affairs probably sending a strong message to anyone within the defence forces that dissenting views will not be tolerated. Sadly.

A simple google search reveals much of the history.   But the Sydney Morning Herald either didn't do it, or didn't care to tell its readers about its expert on international relations and his history with conservative Australian Governments.

Here's how the SMH presented him.

David wroe

Dr Fernandes service with the army does not appear on his official biography at UNSW Canberra.   It's as if his career started in 2005.


Professional Background
Research Interests

My principal research area is 'International Relations and Strategy'. I focus on the 'National Interest' in Australia's external relations. A sample of my work is here.

Cognitive Science: the evolution of the human language faculty.

Courses Taught

ZHSS1401: Ideals, Interests and Power. (International and Political Studies, First Year, First Semester). Ideals, Interests and Power are central concerns in the study of Politics. ZHSS1401 offers you the opportunity to gain insights into these concerns. You will learn to think critically about power: what is it, and how is it allocated? How do people and countries struggle for it? What values motivate them? What are national interests? How are these interests pursued domestically and in the international arena? How ought we to organise our collective lives? You will be exposed to the discipline's best answers to these and other questions. The course draws on Australian and international examples to help you gain an overview of "Who gets what, when and how" – the fundamental questions of International and Political Studies.

Other courses I have taught:

  • The Politics of Australian Security (undergrad)
  • Introduction to Strategic Studies (undergrad)
  • Modern Political Ideologies (undergrad)
  • Comparative Politics of Southeast Asia (undergrad)
  • Contemporary Strategy (postgrad)
  • The Role of Modern Intelligence (postgrad)

Electronic Publications

  • Companion to East Timor 
    This website is a historical companion to East Timor's war of independence. I am eager to hear from you if you wish to provide texts, documents, photos, recordings, videos or any other material that can enhance the site.
  • Companion to the Balibo film 
    I was Consulting Historian to film director Robert Connolly, who directed the Balibo movie. This website provides some factual commentary for those who have seen the film and want to know more about it.


But his biography does make Dr Fernandes's areas of most research and writing very clear - he seems to write a lot about the history of East Timor and not a lot about the implications for Australia of comments about the Labor Party made by a conservative PM in a Washington DC newspaper.

Finally, Scott Burchill features in some of the media commentary about Clinton Fernandes and the East Timor leaks.   Here's a link to Scott Burchill's website with his media coverage.

And here's a happy snap of Scott, Clinton Fernandes and that bastion of independent commentary and analysis of the shortcomings of conservative governments (and editor of Dr Fernandes's book) Noam Chomsky.

Clinton and noam


In 2005, then Major Fernandes completed his army sponsored PhD and found a publisher for his thesis. The Army took legal action to stop the publication, arguing that the book was highly critical of the Howard Government and that as a serving army officer the public criticism of the government of the day was unprofessional.   The Army's corrspondence pointed to personal criticisms Major Fernandes had made about John Howard and Alexander Downer.

Fairfax's actions this morning in promoting Dr Fernandes solely as an expert on international relations was terribly misleading - rather than including reference to his history of angst with the Howard Government.   It would be like asking me to comment on Julia Gillard without revealing all the drama with The AWU Scandal.   I'm hardly likely to give her conduct a glowing report and I'd expect people to include a reference to that part of our history to render a complete picture.

But apparently Fairfax had more important considerations that letting us know about the Fernandes history.   The conclusion I'm left with is that Fairfax wanted someone with academic credentials in international relations ho was prepared to be critical of Tony Abbott.

Here's the ABC's AM program from 13 October, 2005.

NICK MCKENZIE: In 2004, Major Clinton Fernandes completed a four year PhD project the Army had approved. He approached a publisher, who in turn asked him to turn his PhD thesis into a book.

He completed the manuscript of Reluctant Saviour, an extended essay on Australia's role in East Timor's struggle for independence, and sent his Army superiors a copy.

Major Fernandes also sent an assertion that the book relied solely on publicly available information.

The resulting correspondence between Major Fernandes and some of the Army's most senior officers became increasingly heated and it ultimately prompted the 36-year-old major to complain to the Defence Force's Inspector General that the Army had inappropriately invoked national security and information secrecy laws to stall or stop him publishing the book.

He alleges this was done because of concerns the book was highly critical of the Government and because the Government influenced the actions of the Army hierarchy.

The ABC has obtained some of the letters that formed the basis of Major Fernandes' complaint.

In an initial letter, dated the third September last year, the Deputy Chief of the Army, Major General Ian Gordon, tells Fernandes he must adhere to defence policy on the publication of material of a political nature.

Major Fernandes responds that he's done so.

Words of CLINTON FERNANDES: The book is a private, non-military and scholarly activity undertaken as a private citizen. All material states that I am a Melbourne-based historian. No reference is made to my position in the Defence Force.

NICK MCKENZIE: Two weeks later the Chief of the Army, Peter Lay, wrote to Major Fernandes, asking him not to publish the book because:

Words of PETER LAY: Your book is at times overly critical of Government policy. While you are entitled to such a view, I don't think it is professional to express them in public or print.

NICK MCKENZIE: But the letter also notes the Army could not prevent the book being published. Three days after that, a month after the Army received the manuscript, and just over a week before its publishing deadline, Major Fernandes received another letter, again from the Deputy Chief of the Army. It refers to Major Fernandes' time in the Army's Intelligence Corps in the late 1990s and raises concerns about his access to sensitive information about East Timor.

The letter then refers to laws about prejudicing national security and disclosing confidential information.

Words of PETER LAY: Section 79 of the Crimes Act makes it a criminal offence to disclose classified information without authorisation. In addition, Section 70 makes it a criminal offence to publish information.

Your manuscript is not cleared to be published. Defence will raise any particular concerns with you once the review is completed.

NICK MCKENZIE: Major Fernandes' response accuses the Defence Force of intimidation and harassment. 

Words of CLINTON FERNANDES: My book uses information only in the public domain. The threatening statements are individually intimidatory. The intimidatory effect is very clear when the letters are considered cumulatively.

NICK MCKENZIE: AM has obtained an internal letter from the Defence Department to the Army regarding Major Fernandes' book. This internal document raises no concerns about breaches of national security and critically, it was sent to the Army almost three weeks before the Army raised its concerns about national security and information secrecy laws.

In the letter, Ron Benighton, the Defence Department's Deputy Secretary of Intelligence and Security states that:

Words of RON BENIGHTON: Major Fernandes' manuscript has been examined by the defence intelligence agencies and DFAT, and while it is strongly critical of the Government and especially Foreign Minister Downer and DFAT, there is no basis to preclude publication on grounds of national security.

In relation to his use of classified material, Major Fernandes appears to rely carefully only on information that has already been published in the press, or other open sources.

NICK MCKENZIE: Another Army document, a point-by-point deconstruction of the book focuses on political criticisms.

For instance it states:

"Page 36 contains an implied criticism of the Howard Government. Page 45 to 55 contains criticisms of Mr Downer."

Is the Sydney Morning Herald working for its readers or its staff?

Tony Abbott used measured and appropriate language to describe with some exactitude and precision the challenge facing Australia in his Washington Post interview.   Where a position we'd arrived at defied logical explanation Tony Abbott didn't dissemble, he called it like it is.   Wacky.

It was extraordinary language and unusual in cross-national relations.  

If the words were gratuitous or simply smart-alec there'd be no excuse for saying what he said to a foreign audience.

But Prime Minister Abbott was not making off-hand or ill-founded remarks about his opponents.

Read his remarks in context.   Right to the end of a lengthy interview he gave detailed and fact-rich answers to questions about Australian Government policy and Australia's foreign and trade relations.   He was held to account by his interviewer who followed up if anything was left in doubt and made Mr Abbott justify himself in claims he made.

Here is the lead-up to the colourful comments in context.


What is your most challenging issue right now?

Swiftly implementing our election commitments, which were to scrap the carbon tax and the mining tax and get the budget back under control, [get on] a credible path to a strong and sustainable surplus. We’ve got to stop the boats, because this is an issue of sovereignty for us. And of course we’ve got to get cracking and build the infrastructure and the roads of the 21st century. We’re 50 days after the election on Sunday — I think we have made a good start.

What have you actually accomplished?

The flow of boats is significantly reduced. We have drafted legislation to repeal the carbon and mining tax. We’ve just announced a commission to review the size and efficiency of the government on an agency-by-agency basis. We’ve taken control of the national broadband network, and we will deliver faster broadband much more quickly and less expensively than would have been the case under Labor.

Labor wanted a national broadband network?

It’s a government-owned telecommunications infrastructure monopoly, which was proceeding at a scandalous rate without producing any commensurate outcomes. We are changing the objective from fiber to every premise in the country to fiber to distribution points, and then we will use the existing infrastructure to take the broadband to individual premises.

Is that cheaper and more efficient?


But Labor wanted to extend fiber to every household?

Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.

So you believe the former government was doing a lot of things that were bad for the country?

I thought it was the most incompetent and untrustworthy government in modern Australian history.

Be more specific.

They made a whole lot of commitments, which they scandalously failed to honor. They did a lot of things that were scandalously wasteful and the actual conduct of government was a circus. They were untrustworthy in terms of the carbon tax. They were incompetent in terms of the national broadband network. They were a scandal when it came to their own internal disunity. They made a whole lot of grubby deals in order to try and perpetuate themselves in power.  It was an embarrassing spectacle, and I think Australians are relieved they are gone.



That's it.   In a question about accomplishments, Mr Abbott revealed that one of his tasks was to bring under control a nationalised monopoly telecommunications network.   He didn't say, but knew, that the network was designed on two VIP jet flights by Stephen Conroy and Kevin Rudd and that it is burning through billions of dollars with handfuls of users.   It has failed to meet every single target set for itself.  As most advanced countries are looking for ways to enforce more competition into markets, the NBN re-monopolised a competitive market and put the brake on capital investment since its announcement.   To an informed audience the NBN debacle defies logical explanation.

All of those billions, a capital investment strike, the threat of industry closures for this.  

Nbn today

The PM is responsible for Australia's current and future relationships with other countries.   He was asked 5 questions that involved the $50 billion NBN before the interrogatory brought him to the heart of the matter and the illogicality of the NBN.

What is your most challenging issue right now? What have you actually accomplished?
Labor wanted a national broadband network? Is (your alternative) cheaper and more efficient? But Labor wanted to extend fiber to every household?

At the end of a chain of logic he was asked, "but Labor wanted to do it anyway?" At this point I defy anyone to produce a logical answer.  There is no economically sensible answer.   In explaining the Australian Government's current position to a sophisticated audience Abbott was spot on.

But the Sydney Morning Herald has produced not one iota of analysis of the truth or otherwise of what the PM said.  

I could find you an interview that said it was undiplomatic language.  I could find you an interview that said it was reasonable in the circumstances.   My readers wouldn't judge the person I was interviewing as much as they would judge me for bringing that person's views to them.

Here then is what the Sydney Morning Herald took from the 4 pages of the interview with Prime Minister Abbott.  It is running as their most prominent headline article.   And it represents the reason that Fairfax is having trouble retaining customers.

Tony Abbott's ALP criticism could affect US links



Tony Abbott's use of a Washington Post interview to brand his Labor predecessors as ''wacko'' and ''embarrassing'' could set back his working relationship with the Obama adminstration, a leading US commentator says.

Norman Ornstein, an author and political scientist with the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, said he ''winced'' when he read the interview in which Mr Abbott put the boot into the Rudd-Gillard government in unusually strong language for a foreign interview.

''It really does violate a basic principle of diplomacy to drag in your domestic politics when you go abroad,'' Dr Ornstein said. ''It certainly can't help in building a bond of any sort with President Obama to rip into a party, government and - at least implicitly - leader, with whom Obama has worked so closely.

''Perhaps you can chalk it up to a rookie mistake. But it is a pretty big one.''

Politicians around the world typically refrain from engaging in fierce domestic political argument when they are speaking to an overseas audience.

Dr Ornstein, a resident scholar at the AEI - one of Washington's oldest think tanks - was one of Foreign Policy magazine's 100 ''top global thinkers'' in 2012.

In the interview, Mr Abbott told The Washington Post that the former Labor government's conduct was ''a circus'' and was ''scandalously wasteful''.

''It was an embarrassing spectacle and I think Australians are relieved they are gone,'' he said.

Asked about Labor's plan to extend fibre to every household under the national broadband network, Mr Abbott said: ''Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.''

Julia Gillard in particular forged what observers say was a warm and constructive relationship with Mr Obama, which included the deal to station US marines in Darwin. She was one of just 12 world leaders whose calls Mr Obama returned personally after they had called to congratulate him on his 2012 re-election.


Taxpayer funded entitlements for federal parliamentarians

There is much fertile ground here for a media deprived of the drip-feed of daily news conferences and leaks from ministers.   They have to write about something.

150 members of the House of Representatives and 76 Senators burn through about $350 million each year in "entitlements" - that is additional to their salary and electorate allowances.   Around half that "entitlement" is allocated to paying Members' staff, which leaves somewhere north of $160 million handed over to 226 MPs and Senators as taxpayer money, travel and other emoluments every year.

Labor, Fairfax, the ABC, The Guardian and much of the Twitterati-set have telegraphed their punches with enough clarity for Tony Abbott and his team to know this - expenses scrutiny will be one of the key daily topics taking up "mind-space" in the Australian community.

The times are good for them and bad for Abbott on this topic. Legions of Labor/union/government-body apparatchiks will go to taxpayer-funded jobs today to apply expert skills in the science of extracting every possible cent from taxpayer funded sources.   The Liberals tend not to attract people educated in that profession.   The Liberals are amateurs, Labor are professionals.  

Professional rorters prosper and honest toilers focussed elsewhere are easily brought undone by the current system.   Naive operators who "do what everyone else does" and submit expenses as they are and as they happen - rather than with an eye to "extracting value" - aren't hard to find and hang out to dry.   A PM who jets off to a colleagues regional city wedding in the VIP plane is a rorter.   A PM who employs taxpayer funded staff to go ahead and find an announcement to make in the regional city over the weekend of the wedding is not.   Honest intentions do not matter and dishonest intent is often rewarded.

Keep in mind the issue of expense reimbursement is simply not an issue for most corporate and business entities.   The test should be simple - is the expense reasonable and actual?   If it is it's paid by the business.  

Tony Abbott has acted hastily and has disadvantaged himself here by ruling out changes.   He should jump on the issue and take and hold the high ground, out in the open, able to survey and return fire on all around him.  

The current "entitlements" started pre-Federation when men from the Colonies were deciding on whether to join forces and become one country.   Authority to pay them money they were "entitled" to starts in the Constitution.   It's been added to, bit by bit, patch-up by patch-up since.  At its heart it's a system based on defining what participants are entitled to receive, rather than a system set up to make sure the legitimate expenses of running a government are paid.

Most of us are used to online statements linked to credit cards and immediate crystal clarity on financial transactions.   Tony should use that on taxpayers' behalf.   Change the culture Tony from one where experts in the extraction of "entitlements" are advantaged, to a culture where your people who incur legitimate "expenses" in the business of government get the upper hand.

Tony Abbott's team is vulnerable here because they are on a battlefield defined by Labor.  Most of Abbott's people are not psychologically attuned to this issue, their defences are not armed, they don't see the minefields ahead.   While his ministers and staff are focussed on getting big things fixed, swarms of experts will be combing over unprecendent reams of detail on personal expenses they've incurred.

Last year the Auditor General Ian McPhee PSM gave a speech and said;

Another audit causing my name to drop off a few Christmas card lists for a while was the performance audit of parliamentary entitlements tabled in September 2009, which was the third time the ANAO has undertaken a comprehensive examination of entitlements provided to parliamentarians. The audit report drew attention to an entitlements framework that is difficult to understand and manage for both parliamentarians and the Department of Finance and Deregulation, a system that involved limited accountability for entitlements use and a relatively gentle approach by the department to entitlements administration. A positive outcome of this audit was that the government made some decisions concerning the reform of certain entitlements and agreed to a ‘root and branch’ review of the entitlements framework.

He is speaking of this 300 page report.   It is a bottler.   Read it and you'll understand our framework, the ill-defined entitlement to travel on "parliamentary" or "electorate" business and the sparsely defined "official business".   Ian McPhee's teams find the hidey-holes used by professionals and tell us what happens in the UK, the US, Canada and New Zealand. 

Kevin Rudd promised a "root and branch" review after Ian McPhee tendered this Audit report.  Some changes were made to printing allowances (minor in the context of the relatively free-of-charge communications afforded by the internet) but the broader system of taking taxes from taxpayers and turning them into personal entitlements for parliamentarians has not changed at all.  The entitlement mentality is central to Labor's fortunes and remuneration plans for its favoured few.   Labor will get the optics right on pretend reviews but the real change can never come from a Left reliant on the free-flow from a taxpayer teat.   This is their vulnerability.

Tony Abbott should get the job done now, for all our sakes.

Matt Tilley, Fox FM breakfast radio host on becoming a commercially integrated content facilitator

Matt Tilley finishes up 10 years hosting Melbourne's Fox FM breakfast radio show this year and he features in today's 10 questions in the Media section of The Australian with Michael Bodey.   He must be reading the Fairfax Radio Network corporate plans with an eye to a job in talk radio. He was asked how radio had changed since he started in 1995.

In 1995 I was a "performer" whereas now I am a "commercially integrated content facilitator".  We now compete with brekky telly, the web, Facebook, Twitter, and the fact that clients don't just hand over money any more. They want to be involved with the ideas and the message, which also needs to be entertaining.



You're a former lawyer with a quick wit. Surely an AM talk radio gig is your next move?

But what would I do with my quick wit?

A couple of extra contributions to the ADF Irian Jaya Operation story from people who know

I received a lovely note from PeterR today thanking us all for the response to his story this morning about Operation CENDERAWASIH (which I found out means Bird of Paradise).

First up here's the Commonwealth Gazette setting out the dates of the operation and the award of medals.

Defence medal promulgation irian jaya_001


Defence medal promulgation irian jaya_002
I also received a note from reader Col, who sent this photo of the crash scene and the downed chopper.  I found the scale a bit deceptive at first, until I focussed on the group of locals at the bottom left of frame.


Hi Michael,


Just for your info, being an ex RAAF C130 Loadmaster I know the Crewman referred to in the Irian Jaya UH1 crash in 1977, he converted from Helicopter Crewman to Hercules C130 Loadmaster after his helicopter crash rehabilitation.


The ACT Newsletter refers to him as LAC Peter Sinclair, in fact his name is Patrick “Paddy” Sinclair.


The story is covered in AirForce History:

1.       On this day in Air Force history: 19770729 29/07/1977 Fatal helicopter crash in West Irian

During Operation Cenderawasih (Bird of Paradise) in Western New Guinea (or Irian Jaya, Indonesia), two UH-1 Iroquois helicopters of No 9 Squadron, RAAF, were sent on this day from Wamena to convey an Australian Army party engaged in geodetic survey work to an airstrip across the mountains. Heavy cloud caused the mission to be aborted, and the two aircraft were returning to base when machine A2-379 went missing with five personnel on board. The lost aircraft was located early the next day in a moss forest at an altitude of 10 000 feet (3000 metres). Two Army personnel were winched 60 metres through the jungle canopy to the wreck below and found that, apart from the pilot, all on board had survived though three were seriously injured. A Special Air Service patrol team from Darwin was inserted to protect the wreck while recovery operations were carried out over the next week.


The attached photo is the crash position of the Iroquois.


I have forwarded the link to Paddy, if he wishes to make factual comment via your web blog.



Best Regards,





Col, Peter, Paddy, the late Flight Lieutenant Ralph Taylor and all the others who served in West Irian are real people.   The Defence Force is made up of real people.   It's not an amorphous abstract institution that exists to cop flack from lefty journalists who feel it's their duty to break down the military.


The slur of involvement in the slaughter of local villagers in Irian Jaya is just an unspeakable and vile thing to throw at people.   So glad we've had a role in putting the truth forward.


To all those who wear the Australian Service Medal with clasp "Irian Jaya", thank you for your service.

Thanks so much for your support, flowers, beer and shouts to dinner during the week

After the 3rd week in which our wedding featured daily as the explanatory backdrop for the parliamentarian taxpayer funded expenses story, I think you'd understand the Czechoslovakian Princess's sayinhg she's had enough publicity for a little while.

Katarina has asked me to thank you for the lovely flowers, beer, thoughtful notes and other supportive and encouraging thoughts sent our way during the week.

We had a lovely dinner out on King Street Newtown on Friday night and the great piscatorial provider me even managed to get some fishing in yesterday and this afternoon.  No fish for the frypan but a much mellowed me now ready for a big week.


His Royal Highness Senator the Honourable Robert (Bob) Carr has certain standards in personal comfort

We first published this piece on 27 October, 2013.   Get your staff to peel you a grape, sit back, relax and read about lifestyles of the rich and famous.

You could trawl through FOI releases for years and years and I'll bet you'll never find again a Senator and former Premier whose personal comforts when travelling have been so completely prescribed as Senator the Honourable Robert Carr (prefers hotel suite, not residence, with separate hotel office adequately resourced but not excessively so, placed convenient to but not opposite or adjacent to the Minister's room).

Here are a few words about the office he'll need at the hotel when he comes to visit.

Temp office

Bob might be prepared to base the party at the Embassy's chancery or residence for a short visit, but please, not the residence when it comes to Bob basing himself.   It's a hotel suite please (except for Paris where the residence is divine).  And make sure someone reminds him how to use a phone if he's there all by himself.

Junior suite
Carr phone

Bob likes serious, round table meetings, meetings that represent "considered value-adding engagement" with lots of spare time for media.   Australian media that is.   And no early meetings.   And no late meetings.   And lots of time between meetings.   And spare time for media opportunities that might come up.

Did we mention that Senator Carr likes to do media?   And there should always be a television studio or two on standby.  In this order, woe betide the Visit Media Studio Booking Liaison Hair & Make-Up Officer who gets the bookings out of order, CNN last thanks.


And make sure you employ both a Document Liaison Officer and a separate Post Visit Coordinator to hold Bob's notes.

Note holder

And Bob will remember you if you get this right.   He loooooooves culture.   But not cheap culture.   Bob only likes culture and art stuff if it's World Heritage Listed - or at a stretch World Heritage Nominated.

Culture vulture

And don't forget, no crap local papers.  Got it?

Also, make sure to get this right.   Bob does not like temptation.   If Australia's Foreign Minister is ensconced in his junior suite with the office convenient (but not opposite or adjacent) and he becomes aware that there's a couple of Crownies, a Cadbury Fruit and Nut, 3 little UHT milks and a half bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc just waiting to jump onto his expenses - there will be hell to pay.

Mini bar

And while we're on the topic, if you do not have local contractors capable of delivering a decent shelled pistachio nut, polished almond and cracked walnut without pieces of shell and grit, then get on a plane and find somewhere that can.   And a proper meal - p-r-o-p-e-r.   And no snake gizzard or sheep vas deferens.


And don't forget the "arrangements" for processing "gifts" that are good enough to keep.

Procedures for good-enough gifts

Finally find someone with Top Secret clearance to be responsible for the manual thread count on Minister Carr's Egyptian linen bed sheets.   His personal mix is classified and redacted under Section 47 F1.


All of the preceding pretentious crap associated with the Labor Party's friend of the working man Bob Carr was released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in answer to this FOI application.   It is real.   And it defies belief.

13/13064 26 August 2013 Information provided to posts regarding the personal preferences of Minister Bob Carr and his wife prior to international travel by the Minister Information provided to posts regarding the personal preferences of Minister Bob Carr and his wife prior to international travel by the Minister. [PDF 252 KB]