Friday, September 28, 2012

Yes, it's time for the culture and history wars, as the pond gets down wit the galahs and the bent bananas ...

(Above: Barners as a saint copping the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for his china plate).

Speaking as a galah in a pet shop, how pleasantly distracting it was to read an actual report on the body blow recently suffered by former Tamworth lad Barnaby "Barners" Joyce.

As always, there are two sides to the story. On the one side, there's Michelle Grattan's Barnaby's rise hits bump in the road, noting how sitting member Bruce Scott has thwarted Barners push for the seat of Maranoa, leadership of the Nationals and in due course deputy PM:

While some Nationals are disappointed, there will be a few Liberals quietly clapping Scott's decision. The economic dries despise Joyce; the possibility of his one day being deputy PM appals them. Tony Abbott, though, might feel for him - the two are quite close. 

Hmm, how to spin this tragedy?

Come on down Dennis Shanahan, last heard on ABC radio explaining how the Labor party clutching to a surplus was a bad thing, even if a deficit would produce a feral howling from the pack of hounds in the Murdoch press, which would be a good thing even it was also a bad thing. Yes you can get them coming and going in Shanahan's world, and think nothing of the inherent absurdity and hypocrisy of the contradictions.

And you can elevate Barners to martyrdom, as Shanahan does in Decent Barnaby takes one for his mate (inside the paywall, but why should you care?)

Yes, amazingly, a feud over standing for a seat can be presented as a triumph for Barners. Tamworthites will surely shed tears at the sight of such an heroic lad:

...this week Joyce took a decision that defies the stereotype and shames some of his Liberal frontbench colleagues who suspiciously circle each other and have had self-indulgent outbursts that have seriously embarrassed the Opposition Leader without achieving any material or political gain. 
 Joyce also took the decision with a rightful eye on the likelihood the election will not be fought with such a disparity in the polls between the Gillard government and the Coalition. 
 Joyce's choice came down to this. He could pursue his ambitions to move to the House of Representatives and up the Nationals' leadership ladder and - being in the frontline of any Coalition government - create a damaging, destabilising and debilitating internal Nationals' fight all the way through to the election. Or he could put aside his ambition and help the Coalition and his "Reg Grundy" mate, Abbott. 

Positively heroic. It seems Toners and Barners share their undies (reg grundies to you mate).

Shanahan goes on and on and on in an ecstatic rapture about Barners decision to walk away from the fight, channeling Barners or perhaps just taking dictation.

It seems sophisticated Liberals must now learn the importance of xenophobia:

What is a self-evident truth for Queensland veterans - such as retiring senator Ron Boswell, who took on Pauline Hanson and won - is not appreciated by the Liberal sophisticates who don't have to ensure basic concerns and fears about foreign investment have to be listened to and considered. 
 The other error Liberals have been making is to think Joyce's voice is a lone one. When Joyce expressed concerns about the sale of Cubbie Station, those concerns were widely echoed and supported by Nationals MPs. Joyce may have been prepared to "pour oil on troubled waters" but he's not giving up stirring the pot.

Which is why the pond joins with Senator Joyce in demanding that the filthy British with their slanty eyes and slack-jawed poncy dialect be kicked out of Australia at once.

You see culmulatively those damned British swine own more of Queensland than anyone could possibly imagine, and way much more than the hopeless Chinese have managed to date:

Maintain the xenophobic rage!

Speaking of rage, The Australian is all in a lather today about a revival of the history wars, thanks to someone exhuming John Howard.

Naturally they put Howard's piece behind the paywall, even if the pond finds it hard to imagine anyone paying anything for the thoughts of Howard, especially when he allows himself to be positioned under  sublimely stupid header, Bizarre history curriculum studies Kylie not capitalism (behind the paywall and aren't you grateful).

It seems, bizarrely, that Howard is incapable of understanding how Kylie Minogue, and the international packaging and marketing of this product, is a prime example of capitalism at work. How would he get such a peculiar misunderstanding?

... as historian Greg Melleuish has pointed out, for some extraordinary reason, those who wrote this curriculum, in their infinite wisdom, believed that AC/DC and Kylie Minogue are more important to an understanding of the globalising world since 1945. And I say that with much respect to a talented entertainer.

Sigh, yep, from that valiant conservative dodo, that baleful pedant Greg Melleuish.

Why would John Howard pick on the few examples of successful Australian cultural exports to a globalised market? Could he be - the pond hesitates, but has to say it - un-Australian? And we say that with much respect to a talented and always entertaining politician.

The rest of Howard's piece is a standard bit of conservative rhetorical ranting, of the two legs good, four socialist legs bag kind, which boils down to a whine, a whinge about the way that the draft history curriculum is a deeply offensive socialist Marxist Leninist plot that stands for everything Australia, Australians and John Howard and Greg Melleuish are against.

It will not allow for analysis of the impact of other political and economic philosophies, or of other nations and their leaders, on the former Soviet system. But then that might have invited acknowledgment of the roles of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, and I get the impression that the draftsmen of this curriculum would not have wanted that.

Oh forget Maggie and the pious Pope and Ronnie and his wife consulting the tea leaves and the stars before senility set in, there's a more egregious slip to spot.


Yep, it's a dead giveaway that we're dealing here with a fossil, perhaps from the Paleolithic age (let's hope they include that period in the curriculum).

So it's goodbye and farewell to the likes of Louise Zarmati, valiantly arguing that the draft curriculum doesn't have a deliberate ideological bias, or doesn't discriminate against the foundations of Western civilisation and the Judeo-Christian ethic. (Here she is having a futile unwinnable debate with that prancing poodle and ideologue Christopher Pyne).

Draftsmen? It's such a small slip, but such a revealing slip.

By journey's end, we're back in the land of the xenophobe and Aussie oi oi oi.

Australian school students will not be required to learn, in detail, about the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia through the federation of the colonies in 1901, without question the most important event in our national history. Need I say more? 

Well yes actually. Some might argue that the invasion was the most important event in our national history, since it got the white fellas going. Where would the federation be if Napoleon had run the show?

Any course which can defeat the platitudes and certitudes of retired irrelevant gong-banging former politicians gets the pond's vote.

Debate and discuss and we'll have all papers in by Friday or it's an automatic fail!

My fear is that if this curriculum remains unamended, young Australians of the future will be denied a proper knowledge of our nation's history.

Yes, fear. It worked so well for you as a politician, no doubt it will also do the job in the history wars. Fear, fear, fear. Fear the Chinese, fear alternatives, fear draftswomen ...

It so happens that in a former life the pond once taught Australian history. The pond was bored, the students were bored, and it was a devil of a job to put life into the stump-jump plough. Or come to that federation. After all, it's a distinguishing and virtuous feature of Australian history - apart from the odd black massacre, Eureka Stockade, two world wars and lots of minor wars - that it's inclined to be dull.

So we used to do a little cultural history along the way, and where's the harm in that?

Roll on Kylie Minogue, incarnation of globalisation, branding and capitalism, the Margaret Thatcher of pop.

How stupid conservatives can sound.

And naturally right beside John Howard, whispering in to our ears, is Dennis Shanahan, celebrating the news Howard revives history wars (behind the paywall and aren't you lucky, lucky, lucky, you should be so lucky in love).

Talk about galahs.

And now I know you're looking for some more galahs nattering away in the pet shop. Yes, they're still not over Lindsay Tanner in Murdoch la la land, which is why you can hie yourself off to the punch-drunk Punch, and get yourself not just one, but two galahs this sunny morning.

Item one - galah Simon Benson delivering Labor's still got some serious bugs to work out, and item two - galah Mark Kenny with Roll up, roll up, for a peek inside the Labor circus.

Enough already with the galahs. As Barners already knows, the only way to eat a galah is to put it in a pot with a stone, and boil for hours. When the stone has softened,  throw away the galah and eat the sone.

The pond resolves this day to throw away the galahs, and eat John Howard's stone-age history. At least until tomorrow ...

(Below: the only positive thing that can be said about the Barners spin is the way the accompanying illustration by Eric Lobbecke takes the piss out of Barners, and Dennis Shanahan, with an evocative cane toad leaping towards Tony Abbott. Well played Mr. Lobbecke, how pleasing to see a few retain a bent banana sense of humour inside the home of the culture and history wars. Barner's demonic look and the collar hinting at sainthood is almost worth the price of admission. Almost).


  1. The Canberra Times, for reasons best known to itself (but perhaps to provide "balance" with a bit of a sense of humour) each week features a brief column by our mate Barners. Thankfully we have never been exposed to his Reg Grundies. I couldn't help noticing, however, that yesterday's column - a tedious hymn of praise to Ron Boswell - featured that same phrase, "took on Pauline Hanson and won". Perhaps Barners and Shanners share a room or something?
    On the history front, you may not be aware that here in Canberra at the moment we are being visited by the right forearm of Saint Francis Xavier. Presumably the level of taxpayer funding provided to the Catholic education system meant they were unable to pay for the rest of him. But I am reliably informed that the stopover in Canberra is merely the prelude to a tour of the whole country. I'm hopeful that the Chaser lads get along to see it.

  2. "I'd give my right arm not to go to Canberra" - I guess it worked.

  3. Thanks for the tip Russ. How lucky you Canberrans are! Here it is, the homage to Boswell by Dr. "Johnson" Barners

    And I see Barners proudly collects all his pieces on his website:

    And yes the pond is a faithful follower of relics, but again thanks to your tip gained enormous new insights at

    Is this where they got the idea for the Terminator's arm?

    Truly you Canberrans are blessed ... the Canberra Times and Barners and other bizarre relics. I'll bet you run naked through the streets with joy on a daily basis ...


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