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April 2015

NSW RFS, world's biggest fire service - today 74,000 members ordered not to wear uniform in public because of terror threat

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(Davidson RFS  volunteer Tony Abbott in the uniform that could inflame Muslim terrorists)

This is not Australia, surely.   It's certainly not the proud Australia whose indomitable spirit would not be cowed by foreign foes.   Today one of our great institutions changed its ways because of staying the same might inflame Islamissts.

Here is the note from Bob Rogers AFSM, the Deputy Commissioner of the world's largest volunteer fire fighting service, the once-proud NSW RFS.


Personal safety and the wearing of NSW RFS uniform

Posted to Statewide on 30 Apr, 2015. 
Filed under Membership Operations Safety & Welfare

The National Security Alert Level was raised in September 2014 and remains at High which means a terrorist attack is likely.  An Operational Brief and memorandumto this effect were previously circulated.

In light of recent events, advice has been sought from the NSW Police Force Counter Terrorism & Special Tactics Command (CTSTC) regarding the wearing of uniform to and from workplaces (eg. Fire Control Centres, Brigade Stations) by members of emergency services organisations.
For those who intend to cause harm, a uniform represents Government and may not be easily distinguished between law enforcement and emergency service organisations.  Whilst it is important that we go about everyday activities within minimal change, the safety of all NSW RFS members remains paramount.
The similarity of Police uniforms with those worn by NSW RFS members is considered a risk by CTSTC.  As such, CTSTC has recommended that emergency service personnel implement a number of measures to ensure member safety.
It is important to note this recommendation is not based on any specific threat against emergency service personnel, rather on prudent measures given the overall National Security Alert level.
Effective immediately, the following directive applies to all NSW RFS members until further notice.  Please note this directive does not apply to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by members during field deployment.


  • If travelling alone, members will avoid wearing operational, or corporate uniform to and from the Fire Control Centres/Brigade Stations, including travelling on public transport.  
  • When driving private or unmarked NSW RFS motor vehicles, members will cover up operational uniform, or avoid wearing it.  This is less of an issue when travelling in clearly marked NSW RFS motor vehicles.
  • Members who are required to travel through or utilise public areas to attend meetings and other normal daily business are encouraged to travel in groups wherever possible.  If this is not possible, individuals are encouraged to consider wearing a garment to cover operational shirts.
  • Members are strongly encouraged to maintain situational awareness of any suspicious activity.


I would ask all Directors and Managers to ensure this directive is circulated and adhered to within Districts/Sections.
For further information, please visit the secureNSW website at or the National Security website at
Alternatively, please contact Superintendent Ben Millington (Manager, Emergency Management Co-ordination) on telephone 02 8741 5555.
I thank you for your co-operation.


Rob Rogers AFSM, Deputy Commissioner. 

Our country.   Our traditions.  Our values.   74,000 of our best citizens who freely give so much to protect the life and property of others.   And today they were each told that the uniform they once wore with pride might get them killed.

Let it sink in.   Our most generous, courageous and unselfish volunteers - told that because of "recent events" ( code for Islamist Terror attacks) - their uniforms put them at risk of a terror attack.  They're a symbol of government and as Deputy Commissioner Rogers explained when he issued the directive, there lives among us "those who wish us harm".

The RFS volunteers include the very best of us.   Their uniform should be a source of pride and it should attract attention - that is from those of us who'd like to say thank you for your service.

Australia changed a bit today.   Terror won a little victory over us and our way of life.   Once again we are changing our home so we remove things that might cause them offence.   Like the fire brigade's uniform.

I have never felt more certain, sincere or correct in saying these words - it's our country, our flag, our uniforms and our traditions.   If you don't like it, leave,

The ABC breaks into programming on News24 to bring you live coverage of the unfolding climate crisis horror

This is from the ABC's News24 channel this morning.   The ABC cut off another presentation, broke into programming and took this live announcement about the unfolding climate catastrophe.

It's helpful to ask why reports like this one are treated with such urgency and importance at places like the ABC.   It would be logical to use "break into programming" urgency if the predictions of catastrophe were true.   And that's the point with the climate change industry and its boosters - they  believe and that's that.   Nothing shakes the core belief - man's activity is interfering with the climate and we'll be doomed unless we bend to the new order.

There's bigness about the climate change industry.   It looks solid and sounds authoritative.  It's a multi-billion dollar multinational concern with academics, researchers, publicists and countless true believers pushing the barrow every day.   Countless  people rely on climate change funding for their jobs.   It's hard to make someone question something when their livelihood depends on them believing it.  So it's no surprise that young journalists and ABC types believe too.

Belief is at the heart of the climate change industry.  Super-powered belief, sincere belief, the kind of belief that the churches call faith.  People go to war based on that sort of faith.

The Climate Change Nicene Creed is recorded in the IPCC's reports - temperatures are going up and  rich countries made it happen.   Adherents believe it.   Further climate change work flows not from questioning the IPCC hypothesis, but from a re-statement of the IPCC  core belief applied to some other area of academic pursuit. In countries like Australia,  that means applying the IPCC temperature rise projections to work out the damage that will hit an area of industry, society or whatever  (the effects of climate change are always a nett negative  - good effects like growing more food aren't reported).  

Dr Owler in the video above is a neurosurgeon.   He knows a lot about medicine - and he believes strongly in the climate change industry and its mantra.   But it's a little discomforting when he mixes his professional knowledge about the health profession with his belief in climate change.   He says hospitals are already feeling the effects - "we are already seeing more severe weather events linked to climate change" and thus more people get hurt and go to hospital.   QED.   It must be difficult for him to separate his professional knowledge about his work from his belef system.  And I'm sure he believes in climate change like I believe the sun will come up tomorrow.   The IPCC can be very convincing.

While the temperature data might not be helpful to the climate change industry, 20 odd years of well orchestrated PR campaigns have been.  Climate Change is a huge brand, and its marketing has delivered outstanding results for the climate change industry. Everyone knows what climate change stands for.   Horrible things will happen unless we take urgent action.

The climate change industry achieved its results with two energising and simple messages (beyond the stultifying esoteric theories about the CO2 effect on heat retention).   Climate change is always  "worse" than we thought and we should do "more".  Always.

Every report, media release, interview or speech includes these two messages.   People logically have questions about the issue and those two messages answer them.

How bad is climate change?  What should we do about it?

The product of continual "research" flowing from the IPCC fundamental message is that climate change is "worse" than we thought and therefore we must  do "more".  More research, more "new" stuff in the news and it just builds and builds and builds.  On sand.

 So how does it work in practice?

Climate change is worse than we thought - we're bombarded with it constantly.   It's always on the news.   Most days we'll hear reports about a new and impressive body of peer-reviewed academic research into the effects of climate change on [insert area of interest].   Inevitably the new research concludes that IPCC defined climate change will cause a nett negative effect on humanity through its impacts on the area covered by the new report.  The more likely the area of research is to get publicity, the more likely it is to be funded.  That means research grants are often made to research things we'll feel a strong connection with - and news directors like to balance their reports with those sorts of stories.    All Australia's universities fund climate change research and there are only 250 odd business days for the news reporting industry each year.   It doesn't take much to get that "new story every day" feel.

One sentence at the start of an academic research report gets the climate change "science" out of the way.  "The IPCC expects global temperatures to rise by at least 2 degrees by..." with a footnote.   Then the expensive new research works out how much that will hurt whatever it is that's being looked into.

Academics and universities are masters in PR.   They want their research work reported in the media and they're very successful in getting coverage.  There are a lot more research projects delivering reports than time available on the news to report them - so if it seems that you hear a "new" report about "climate science" every other day, that's  because you probably do.

Most of the PR follows the Climate Change mantra.  "A new report has calculated that the effects of climate change will hit [insert area of endeavour] harder than scientists thought".  It follows that we must do more to save it..  The effect from a marketing perspective is very powerful on the masses, the cumulative effect of those messages is very persuasive.   It's worse today than it was yesterday.  This afternoon new research will reveal it's even worse than we thought before lunch. It will be worse again when we look at it later on  after dinner.  

So if that's the case, what should we do?  It's infuriatingly obvious, why don't some people get it?  Our government must do more.   M-O-R-E.  When you don't know what "do more" actually means, "do more" translates into spend more money. Which is what the climate change industry is all about, spending other people's money.

There are a few secondary messages flowiong from "worse" and "more".  

Who will be hardest hit by climate change?  The poor - in particular poor countries.   There's no government grant money in doing work to look after the rich so it's not funded.   Researchers follow the money and that's mostly available for research into the needy.

What will be hardest hit?   Things we like.  Climate change only hurts things we like.   It helps things we hate. Take the Climate Change Google challenge.   Google "cliamate change" and butterflies or something else most people like.   Check the results - disaster looming.

Now try things you hate like jellyfish, pests and stuff.

Dr  Owler is the head of the AMA.   He's a learned man, a skilled professional and the  quintessence of the genre casting directors might call the gravitas-laden scientific-presenter.   It was the combination of  gravitas, credentials, experience and Bruce's passion for the cause that led to the RTA putting Dr Owler in these fabulous road safety ads.

Dr Owler brought that same gravitas to a cause he believes in - climate change.   Same passion, same belief, same gravitas. Here he is speaking for Tim Flannery's Climate Commission during the halcyon Gillard days, June 2013


It's one thing to believe.   It's quite another to mix professional credentials in a profession with a belief in something like climate change.  I'd defy anyone to produce a  data set tracked over the past decade which gives a global rise in temperature as the sole cause for some increase in activity at a hospital.   Dr Owler is a neurosurgeon who speaks with immense authority on medical matters.   But he is not an atmospheric scientist and he cannot know the unknowable.   He believes in climate change and he knows from the data things are busier in the hospitals.   QED.  

To the climate change industry everything is an opportunity because everything will be affected by climate change.  So if there are no data linking climate change to hospital activity yet - well someone better fund a new round of grants, pronto.

Climate change - did you know it's worse than we thought?  We really should do more.

Click here to watch the TURC hearings into the Labor Party Loans Affair - day four

Here are the transcripts and exhibits from yesterday's glacial proceedings.



Uncorrected proof of transcript. This will be replaced with corrected proof as soon as possible. 



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The first witness today is Steve Butler, the current secretary of the NSW Branch of the ETU.

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Mr Butler has adopted his witness statement (with amendments) which has been tendered and received into evidence it is apparently quite lengthy.

Sam Dastyari's name came up in the first few minutes of Mr Butler's evidence.

The Commission was shown a letter from Dastyari dated 14 September 2012 - Dastyari was then the NSW Labor Party head - the letter is addressed to Butler as Secretary of the ETU NSW Branch.

The letter purports to set out, or refer to, the alleged loan contract between the ETU NSW Branch and the NSW Labor Party prior to the ETU making a loan to the Labor Party in December 2010.   We'll publish the letter as soon as possible.

Mr Butler was quizzed about an after-the-event review of the Labor Party money transfer conducted by lawyers for the ETU - they found that the loan was made within the rules of the union.

Mr Butler was excused a little before 11AM.  The interesting bits of Mr Butler's testimony are in the Exhibits which we'll review as soon as we can get them.


At about 11AM Neville Betts was sworn.

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What was Sam Dastyari up to in 2010/11 when the ETU "loan" was so speedily arranged

In July 2013 Nick Bryant wrote this lengthy article for The Monthly magazine about Sam Dastyari.   Dastyari opened up about the shocking  election loss Labor faced at the NSW 2011 state election.

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The story is quite lengthy - I've reprinted a few paragraphs below, commencing with Sam at a branch meeting of the Labor Party in Sydney.


Is the general of NSW Labor serious about reform?

After paying a thoughtful tribute to a recently deceased local member, he addresses the Obeid hearings at ICAC. “How did we let the Labor party be taken over by a handful of people for their own personal gain?” he asks. “It’s disgraceful,” shouts a man from his wheelchair. “I cringe,” seethes another old-timer.

Next, Dastyari moves on to the federal election. All is not lost, he claims rather implausibly. He has also come bearing gifts: books on ALP history that he discovered while cleaning out the party’s notorious Sussex Street headquarters. (In what he hopes will be a monument to his reforms, he has relocated the HQ to Parramatta in the heart of the western suburbs.)

But the main purpose of his visit is to talk about the need for party reform. His ideas, which he describes as “radical”, “very controversial” and “hated by the parliamentary party”, are aimed at devolving power from political professionals like himself to the civilians in his audience. “More people need to be involved in the decision-making process,” he says. “We need to end the practice where seven people meeting in a Chinese restaurant decide everything,” a reference to the famed Golden Century restaurant next to the old ALP headquarters, the long-time work canteen for plotters and knife-wielders.

His ideas receive a favourable hearing. More dispiriting are the questions from the floor. Virtually all of them focus on how to win the next election. Most are predicated on the view that the Gillard government’s problems are primarily presentational.

Others buy Dastyari’s argument. Mark Latham has written of “the Dastyari vision” in almost as hallowed terms as “the Keating legacy”. Critics, however, are distrustful. “He keeps company publicly with reformers,” notes one Labor insider. “He keeps company privately with the old guard.” So is he a Labor moderniser with the ideas, energy and connections to revive the party, or simply an apparatchik who has mastered the double game?

There is also a glaring omission in Dastyari’s reform agenda: any attempt to curb the dominant influence of unions, who hold half the votes at state party conferences. Precious few of his proposals challenge the power of union bosses. “He’s pushing the envelope, and that’s refreshing,” says Bramston, “but he’s not challenging the unions.” Were Dastyari serious about reform, his detractors argue, he would be calling for the membership to decide who does his job.

Dastyari is manifestly a product of the system he is now professing to dismantle. He’s a factional creature and a factional player. His formative political experience was working for the “Yes” campaign during the 1999 republic referendum, but he joined the Labor Party soon after, at the age of 16, and started rising through the ranks. The story of how he wrested control of a local branch in Baulkham Hills in north-west Sydney by recruiting pals from school has entered ALP folklore. Summoned to Sussex Street for a dressing-down, he arrived wearing his school uniform. So impressed were party bosses by Dastyari’s precocity that they earmarked him as a “numbers man”, the ultimate accolade of the NSW Right.


Sam Dastyari engineered the Craig Thomson legal machinations and oversaw Labior finances going to the Thomson private legal fees, he was pivotal in the installation of Gerard Hayes after Michael Williamson was cut loose, he was central in the ETU Labor Loans Affair - and he speaks publicly about the need for Party reform?

SAm DAstyari is not yet on the witness list for the Royal Commission.   it would make a fascinating session in the witness box - the only difficulty would be to decide which union matter before the Commission Sam has been most involved in.

Suffering from misogyny? The diagnosis depends on who the patient is.

Earlier this week a prominent Austalian woman had her photo plastered over the newspapers and TV screens with horrible, demeaning headlines.   "Fat", "Fatty", "Bully" and some of the reporting was much worse.   So you'd expect the automatic, reflexive response of the Misogyny National Guard, calling out misogyny wherever they see it.   The Twitterati should have been aploplectic linking the comments to domestic violence, body image, depression and much more.   But there's been nothing, not a single Tweet in support.   That's because the woman is Gina Rinehart and not Julia Gillard.

One of Ms Rinhart's children John Hancock is a real charmer.   He's involved in legal action against his mother about money.   He wants more of it.

In the court proceedings many of John Hancock's emails to his sisters have been tendered into evidence - the file is here:

Download 0376_001-2

This court case has everything, money, drama and Gina Rinehart - so the media has been there in force.   And they didn't miss a trick in reporting on John Hancock's horrible way with words about his mother.

Headline after headline - "Fat", "Fatty" - you get the picture.

If John Hancock was talking about just about any other woman in those emails imagine the outrage!

But the leftists and feminists must be on leave at the moment.

There's no Clementine Ford, no ABC, no "Destroying the Join" -not even a Tracey Spicer.   None of the usual feminist cheer squad has chided Hancock - nor has the tone of the some of the media reporting been criticised.

I just searched the whole of Twitter for the words "John Hancock Rinehart fat".   Other than the original media stories, there's not a single Twitter contribution commenting on the young man's disrespect for women.

Apparently if Gina Rinehart is involved, Gina Rinehart is in the wrong.   How else to explain the complete absence of any feminist taking the lead to condemn John Hancock.

I spoke to a journalist mate yesterday about this - he said the old saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend" is probably at play.   John Hancock is fighting Gina Rinehart, so are "we" - therefore he's on our side.

And that's what drives so much of the left's commentary.   It's tribal.

As late as last night the ABC's Lateline program gave airtime to the QandA favourite and professional Muslim Mona Eltahawy.   She's written a book about sex -  and the ABC decided Australian taxpayers should help her sell it - here's a link to the show and here's her bio:

Mona Eltahawy is an Egyptian born author who argues the Arab world needs a sexual revolution. She spoke to Lateline's Tony Jones about new book, 'Headscarves and Hymens'.


It only took 2 questions for Ms Eltahawy to link headscarves, Hymens, sex, misogyny and that most famous misogyny sufferer of them all:   

I'm trying to name and shame this misogyny because I believe, again - you know, once again, misogyny is global. I mean, you know, I'm talking to an Australian audience and I'm sure you, Tony, and your audience remember what happened to your former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her famous misogyny speech and the kind of - the awful things that she had to put up with from both the Opposition, the media and the street in Australia. And a recent survey showed that young Australian women believe that misogyny was on the rise and that it was discouraging them from certain career paths. So my point again is that misogyny is global, but what I'm trying to do in my part of the world is figure out how we can take apart that trifecta of misogyny and confront it in the feminist way that women across the world are doing every day.

She knows her ABC audience  in Australia!   

Tony Abbott only had to drink a schooner in a pub before Anzac Day - and he was linked to promoting domestic violence against women.   The reporting about Gina Rinehart has been much more damaging than that.  Come on feminists, where's your support for the sister Gina Rinehart?


From the time before Twitter and hashtags when literature prompted reflection - George Orwell's "A Hanging"

I've received more joy than I could hope to describe from reading two particularly important pieces of writing over the past week - each of then sent to me by readers of this site.

Firstly, young digger Norm's  story of the battle of Lone Pine. 

Norman's story was first published in 1915 in the Sydney Morning Herald.  The family has lovingly kept a copy of the faded newspaper - stored among the pages of the bound book that holds the official history of Norm's battalion, a gift for Norn in 1935 in 1935 from his dad.  

Because the book was a gift, Norm's dad pasted a label inside the front cover.   The label has a few family details, name, date and the like.   But it also has a few short words of marvellous advice about reading.

In this Twitter age, those few words inside Norn's book are needed more than ever:

  • Read slowly.

  • Pause frequently.

  • Think seriously.

The second piece of writing required all 3 of those things in spades   It's the sort of writing we don't see much now.     George Orwell wrote it and as my friend CK said in sending it to me - can you have too much Orwell?.

The essay is about capital punishment.  Compare and contrast what you're about to read with the video from today's celebrity/Twitter/fabulousness-industry people in their YouTube effort to Tony Abbott

There's no hashtag, no trending Twitter thing, no tribe supporting these ideas, just a man and his very important story.

A Hanging (1931) is a short essay written by George Orwell, first published in August 1931 in the British literary magazine The Adelphi. Set in Burma, where Orwell (under his real name of Eric Arthur Blair) had served in the British Imperial Police from 1922 to 1927, it describes the execution of a criminal.

Read it slowly.   Pause frequently.   Think seriously.


A Hanging

It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil, was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages. Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men, due to be hanged within the next week or two.

One prisoner had been brought out of his cell. He was a Hindu, a puny wisp of a man, with a shaven head and vague liquid eyes. He had a thick, sprouting moustache, absurdly too big for his body, rather like the moustache of a comic man on the films. Six tall Indian warders were guarding him and getting him ready for the gallows. Two of them stood by with rifles and fixed bayonets, while the others handcuffed him, passed a chain through his handcuffs and fixed it to their belts, and lashed his arms tight to his sides. They crowded very close about him, with their hands always on him in a careful, caressing grip, as though all the while feeling him to make sure he was there. It was like men handling a fish which is still alive and may jump back into the water. But he stood quite unresisting, yielding his arms limply to the ropes, as though he hardly noticed what was happening.

Eight o'clock struck and a bugle call, desolately thin in the wet air, floated from the distant barracks. The superintendent of the jail, who was standing apart from the rest of us, moodily prodding the gravel with his stick, raised his head at the sound. He was an army doctor, with a grey toothbrush moustache and a gruff voice. 'For God's sake hurry up, Francis,' he said irritably. 'The man ought to have been dead by this time. Aren't you ready yet?'

Francis, the head jailer, a fat Dravidian in a white drill suit and gold spectacles, waved his black hand. 'Yes sir, yes sir,' he bubbled. 'All iss satisfactorily prepared. The hangman iss waiting. We shall proceed.'

'Well, quick march, then. The prisoners can't get their breakfast till this job's over.'

We set out for the gallows. Two warders marched on either side of the prisoner, with their rifles at the slope; two others marched close against him, gripping him by arm and shoulder, as though at once pushing and supporting him. The rest of us, magistrates and the like, followed behind. Suddenly, when we had gone ten yards, the procession stopped short without any order or warning. A dreadful thing had happened - a dog, come goodness knows whence, had appeared in the yard. It came bounding among us with a loud volley of barks, and leapt round us wagging its whole body, wild with glee at finding so many human beings together. It was a large woolly dog, half Airedale, half pariah. For a moment it pranced round us, and then, before anyone could stop it, it had made a dash for the prisoner, and jumping up tried to lick his face. Everyone stood aghast, too taken aback even to grab at the dog.

'Who let that bloody brute in here?' said the superintendent angrily. 'Catch it, someone!'

A warder, detached from the escort, charged clumsily after the dog, but it danced and gambolled just out of his reach, taking everything as part of the game. A young Eurasian jailer picked up a handful of gravel and tried to stone the dog away, but it dodged the stones and came after us again. Its yaps echoed from the jail wails. The prisoner, in the grasp of the two warders, looked on incuriously, as though this was another formality of the hanging. It was several minutes before someone managed to catch the dog. Then we put my handkerchief through its collar and moved off once more, with the dog still straining and whimpering.

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working - bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming - all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned - reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone - one mind less, one world less.

The gallows stood in a small yard, separate from the main grounds of the prison, and overgrown with tall prickly weeds. It was a brick erection like three sides of a shed, with planking on top, and above that two beams and a crossbar with the rope dangling. The hangman, a grey-haired convict in the white uniform of the prison, was waiting beside his machine. He greeted us with a servile crouch as we entered. At a word from Francis the two warders, gripping the prisoner more closely than ever, half led, half pushed him to the gallows and helped him clumsily up the ladder. Then the hangman climbed up and fixed the rope round the prisoner's neck.

We stood waiting, five yards away. The warders had formed in a rough circle round the gallows. And then, when the noose was fixed, the prisoner began crying out on his god. It was a high, reiterated cry of 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!', not urgent and fearful like a prayer or a cry for help, but steady, rhythmical, almost like the tolling of a bell. The dog answered the sound with a whine. The hangman, still standing on the gallows, produced a small cotton bag like a flour bag and drew it down over the prisoner's face. But the sound, muffled by the cloth, still persisted, over and over again: 'Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!'

The hangman climbed down and stood ready, holding the lever. Minutes seemed to pass. The steady, muffled crying from the prisoner went on and on, 'Ram! Ram! Ram!' never faltering for an instant. The superintendent, his head on his chest, was slowly poking the ground with his stick; perhaps he was counting the cries, allowing the prisoner a fixed number - fifty, perhaps, or a hundred. Everyone had changed colour. The Indians had gone grey like bad coffee, and one or two of the bayonets were wavering. We looked at the lashed, hooded man on the drop, and listened to his cries - each cry another second of life; the same thought was in all our minds: oh, kill him quickly, get it over, stop that abominable noise!

Suddenly the superintendent made up his mind. Throwing up his head he made a swift motion with his stick. 'Chalo!' he shouted almost fiercely.

There was a clanking noise, and then dead silence. The prisoner had vanished, and the rope was twisting on itself. I let go of the dog, and it galloped immediately to the back of the gallows; but when it got there it stopped short, barked, and then retreated into a corner of the yard, where it stood among the weeds, looking timorously out at us. We went round the gallows to inspect the prisoner's body. He was dangling with his toes pointed straight downwards, very slowly revolving, as dead as a stone.

The superintendent reached out with his stick and poked the bare body; it oscillated, slightly. 'He's all right,' said the superintendent. He backed out from under the gallows, and blew out a deep breath. The moody look had gone out of his face quite suddenly. He glanced at his wrist-watch. 'Eight minutes past eight. Well, that's all for this morning, thank God.'

The warders unfixed bayonets and marched away. The dog, sobered and conscious of having misbehaved itself, slipped after them. We walked out of the gallows yard, past the condemned cells with their waiting prisoners, into the big central yard of the prison. The convicts, under the command of warders armed with lathis, were already receiving their breakfast. They squatted in long rows, each man holding a tin pannikin, while two warders with buckets marched round ladling out rice; it seemed quite a homely, jolly scene, after the hanging. An enormous relief had come upon us now that the job was done. One felt an impulse to sing, to break into a run, to snigger. All at once everyone began chattering gaily.

The Eurasian boy walking beside me nodded towards the way we had come, with a knowing smile: 'Do you know, sir, our friend (he meant the dead man), when he heard his appeal had been dismissed, he pissed on the floor of his cell. From fright. - Kindly take one of my cigarettes, sir. Do you not admire my new silver case, sir? From the boxwallah, two rupees eight annas. Classy European style.'

Several people laughed - at what, nobody seemed certain.

Francis was walking by the superintendent, talking garrulously. 'Well, sir, all hass passed off with the utmost satisfactoriness. It wass all finished - flick! like that. It iss not always so - oah, no! I have known cases where the doctor wass obliged to go beneath the gallows and pull the prisoner's legs to ensure decease. Most disagreeable!'

'Wriggling about, eh? That's bad,' said the superintendent.

'Ach, sir, it iss worse when they become refractory! One man, I recall, clung to the bars of hiss cage when we went to take him out. You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. "My dear fellow," we said, "think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!" But no, he would not listen! Ach, he wass very troublesome!'

I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing. Even the superintendent grinned in a tolerant way. 'You'd better all come out and have a drink,' he said quite genially. 'I've got a bottle of whisky in the car. We could do with it.'

We went through the big double gates of the prison, into the road. 'Pulling at his legs!' exclaimed a Burmese magistrate suddenly, and burst into a loud chuckling. We all began laughing again. At that moment Francis's anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.


Daily Telegraph front page 9 years ago when death sentences handed down - "NO SYMPATHY"

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That front page is from February 2006.  What a difference 9 years has made.

John Howard and Peter Costello were running the show - Kim Beasley was the opposition leader.

Work didn't start on creating Twitter until March 2006.   There was no "social media" to distort or shape our attitudes and responses to issues.

There's no doubt the two drug felons were vastly changed men thanks to their time in gaol.   But I think our country and its attitudes  changed tremendously during that time too.  The Gillard years set a very low standard for integrity - Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson are two startling cases in point.  

I'd love to hear from you about changes you see in our country's character over the past decade or so.

Why is Greens Senator Christine Milne's opinion on everything newsworthy?

Sky News has given Christine Milne's press conference about the Chan/Sukumaran executions this morning a good deal of prominence with live TV coverage, repeats every half hour and more than a dozen Tweets from Sky about Milne like this - 


Who cares what Christine Milne thinks about this issue?  We might as well feature the opinions of  Mrs Francis from No 27 or Aunty Joan for all Milne's opinions add to the matter.  Everyone has an opinion on this morning's events, so why is Milne's receiving similar prominence to the Prime Minister's?

Who cares what The Greens think?  It's an important question with an important answer - and that  answer is - the press gallery cares.

The Press Gallery stamp of approval is irrelevant to most of us.   Have they checked with Bob Katter to get his views along with The Greens?   

We'd be much better off with the fringe looney tunes Greens being relegated to the background, down with the fairies at the bottom of the garden.

By comparison here is a statement that is important - from the Government of Australia.   

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And you have to feel for the families of the dead drug felons who released this statement this morning.

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