Public First Program


Shane Elson


email Shane

+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

Feb 2008 # 3

(Right Click here to download Audio - MP3)

Back to Editorials 2008

Dud Laugh

You could say I’m a little obsessed by the goings on in the Big House in Canberra over the last week or so. It’s been so much fun and the irony, belly laughs and general sense of humour coming out of the place seems to indicate that we did, indeed, get dudded. 

The great cultural warriors who championed the demise of political correctness and the rise of Hansonism; those who threw truth overboard as they pursued their ‘purification’ of the Australian ‘way of life’; those who believed that war, at any cost, was worth far more than peace at the cost of profits and who believed that absolutely every wage slave would better off under their unfair and unjust workplace laws have now ‘seen the light’ and obtained ‘fresh guidance’ on their thinking. 

Starting with an apology (of sorts but hey, lets not be too hard on the racist hardliners – at least Brendan made the effort) and a week later culminating in a bit of practical politicking and the scrapping of their workplace philosophy, it seems the Libs and Nats have seen the light and humbled themselves. Perhaps not. 

Last Monday night saw the first public humiliation of John Howard by his former “mates” and colleagues as they opened up and perhaps, for the first time in their public lives, told us the truth about themselves. However, what intrigued me most about their ‘revelations’ was that they all blamed poor John. 

If we are to believe Costello, Hockey, Minchin, Downer et al it would seem that they and others, who spoke out about his unwillingness to bend to public sentiment, his willingness to renege on his retirement promises and their self-recriminations over not speaking up a little more vociferously in the party room, were totally without agency over the last 11 years. Bollocks! 

These weak and snivelling sycophants were totally responsible for all the decisions. Collectively they promoted the racist policies; decried those who objected to their excesses; bought into poverty thousands who could have been employed and oversaw the biggest increase in the wealth gap during their tenure. 

In slotting home blame to John each of the Four Corner’s guests revealed, with customary unanimity, their own failures as politicians and custodians of not only the common wealth but also the public discourse. “Don’t blame us.” They shouted as one. “John didn’t listen to us.” Again, bollocks! 

As the conservative parties rip themselves apart and grasp the reality of pragmatic politics, they can’t find it within themselves to admit that their desire to hold on to power and privilege at any cost rode roughshod over their responsibility to guide and shape the nation for the better. 

And so, here we are, a week out from the “parliamentary” apology – not even Rudd is game to admit total social failure when if comes to the First Australians – and we find that the Libs and Nats have got some fresh insight and realised that Work Choices was, perhaps, not such a good idea. Yet, less than four months ago all of them swore black and blue that work choices was the single most memorable piece of legislation the Howard government introduced. Seems like, as I’ve said before, the great forgetting has begun. 

But what of John W. Howard? He seems to have disappeared off the map. Well, not really. He’s been signed up as one of the ‘worlds greatest speakers’ and is now getting paid obscene amounts to speak at private functions around the globe. I’m not sure what he’s speaking about but I do wonder if he is introduced as “Australia’s greatest Prime Minister”. Who knows? Who cares? What is important to remember is that he will never be held accountable for the pain and suffering he facilitated. 

What is apparent from the last week of parliamentary shenanigans is that sorry is one word the Libs and Nats still find hard to say. No sorry to the Four Corner’s audience for their spineless performance while in government in not standing up for their, now declared, scruples; no sorry to the thousands who had their pay cut or lost their jobs under their Work Choices; no sorry to Haneef, the surviving relatives of SEIV X, David Hicks or Vivian Alverez-Salon and no apology to their fanatical ideological base on whom they now turn their backs. 

It is obvious that the Liberal and National Party’s candidates are selected not for their intellectual and moral fortitude but rather because they are willing to dance to the tune their pipers call. Even good old Barnaby Joyce is seemingly unwilling to speak out and boast that he ‘told them so’ when he raised his “personal” concerns over the Howard government excesses. Perhaps he might have spilled the beans and ratted out his grovelling colleagues and their willingness to sell out their morals for the taste of power. Maybe that’s why he and others, remain mute to date. 

We did get duded by the Howard years. I can’t say I’m hopeful that the Rudd years will be any different once the fresh paint on the same old policies is dried and their true intent is realised. However, I am confident that the new public discourse that Rudd has introduced may soften the national conversation somewhat and that, in doing so, he will enable us to find more creative ways to stand up to power and resist the excesses so obvious under Howard’s mob. 

I guess that while this is happening I will remain obsessed and amused by the squirming and public humiliation that the Libs and Nats must endure as they rebuild their brand and attempt to steal back the franchise they so desperately desire. I guess I will continue to get my belly laughs from listening to and watching the evening news and quality current affairs programs. My only real political hope is that we are now a little wiser, collectively and won’t allow ourselves to be dudded in the same way again.



Recent Editorials

Sorry is Hard to Say (MP3)

Anything is Possible (MP3)

The End of the Line (MP3)

A Return to Day Zero (MP3)

K07: The Aftermath (MP3)

Cup Day & Dictators(MP3)

A Day at the Races (MP3)

Gunns and Roosters (MP3)

We are all Witnesses (MP3)

Blackwater USA-Private War (MP3)

Agents of the State (MP3)

Cousins of Gunns (MP3)

Eureka and the ABCC (MP3)

Which god? (MP3)

Run to Paradise (MP3)

SIM Cards and Generosity (MP3)

Repackaging Cigarettes and Politicians (MP3)

Body of Evidence (MP3)

Oceans of Money (MP3)

Cold Racism (MP3)

Unspoken Words Among Friends (MP3)

All Along the Watchtower (MP3)


The Bridge Keeper's Son (Feb '06)



Aquaman Meets Pell (MP3)


The Reigning Rein(MP3)


Johnny GM Seed (MP3)


When Generals Talk (MP3)


Madam Economy (MP3)


Hitchin' a Ride



ANZAC for Whom?



Jones, Race and Class Interests (MP3)


Bombay Nights



The Politics of Convenience and Liability (MP3)


Tears, Perks and People (MP3)


Technically Speaking(MP3)


Hicks, Burke and Howard (MP3)


The Free Market on a Lazy Sunday (MP3)


You Lose Power (MP3)


Rearranging the Deckchairs (MP3)


Educated Ignorance (MP3)


Young Liberals

go to Town (MP3)


In a Funk - A 2006 Reflection (MP3)