Sunday 18 November 2007


OK. The Foreign Minister Lord Downer didn’t say that. But during last week’s debate with Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokesman, he again expressed his disgust that the leader of the opposition might address the Chinese President in – Chinese!

Downer accused Rudd of being a show off – implying that Australians who acquire foreign language skills should keep these to themselves -= presumably so that our mono lingual nation can go on feeling relaxed and comfortable about this monumental national failure.

Downer then made a very unconvincing effort to showcase his French. I am no French speaker but his effort sounded like a text book self introduction – hardly an exhibition of fluency. It was an exhibition of a schoolboy jealousy and hatred that must have amused the Diplomatic fraternity gathered for insights into the big foreign policy issues of the day.

What a joy it will be to despatch this goose – our longest serving Foreign Minister – from the world stage next week – please!

Thursday 8 November 2007


Bank claims on interest rates ring hollow

The long suffering banks are sounding serious. They cry they will be forced to pass interest rate rises to borrowers in excess of the official rise of .25%. Most are talking imminent rises of .5%.

The reason being provided is that instability in international credit sources means banks are themselves paying a premium for cash required above what they are holding in deposits.

So why are we not seeing more incentive in the deposit markets?

The two banks I use, HSBC and Commonwealth have not raised their savings deposit rates following either recent rate rises. It would seem to be a logical way of boosting deposits and reducing exposure to international sources of funds.

Looks more like a profit lunge than a cash shortage driving interest rate rises in excess of Reserve Bank movements.


John Howard is an unconvincing flag bearer for democracy and the rule of law

So John Howard called President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday to condemn his declaration of emergency rule?

Presumably Howard believes that amidst the chaos, Pakistan’s best hope for turning the tide on its growing Islamic insurgency is through democracy and the rule of law.

Musharraf must be amused.

Here in Australia, a country facing none of the security threats faced in Pakistan, Howard has presided over an unprecedented attack on the pillars of democracy. He has supported the suspension of habeas corpus, he has attacked the independence of the judiciary and the public service, and he has presided over greater concentration of media ownership as well as restrictions on media - all in the name of national security. His tacit support for the US prison at Guantanamo Bay and the unlawful detention of David Hicks all belie any claim he could put to President Musharraf that democracy and the rule of law triumphs over all challenges.

Further, the war in Iraq that he still aggressively advocates has created a rallying point for Islamist radicals around the world that has directly contributed to destabilisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

How might Howard respond if Australia faced the threats Musharraf faces in Pakistan? If there was an algorithm that measured actual threat against freedoms suspended in Australia and Pakistan, we might find that the two countries are closer than we think.

Howard will be a more convincing champion of democracy on the world stage when he champions liberal democracy in Australia.