Monday, April 28, 2014

Ah Jake, you've got to laugh, it's Sydney town ...

(Above: Juanita Nielsen in her beehive hey day)

The pond was reminded the other day of the Juanita Nielsen matter.

Nielsen has a brief biography at the ADB here, and there's a link to one of the corrupt businessmen involved in the matter here.

For years nobody in New South Wales could bring themselves to admit, acknowledge or put on the record that Nielsen had been murdered. There was a conspiracy of silence, and the best that could be said was that she had seemed to have disappeared. One day an activist, the next day gone travelling.

It was a time when New South Wales was deeply, profoundly corrupt.

This is, perhaps a truism, since New South Wales has always been, and continues to be, deeply corrupt.

Back then, it rotted from the head down, with both the Premier and the Police Commissioner corrupt.

The ADB is piquant on the fortune that Askin made, here, though it - like the media of the day - is relatively discreet:

Askin died on 9 September 1981 at Darlinghurst and was cremated. Anticipating that questions might be asked about his estate, valued at $1.958 million, he had explained to his former press secretary, Geoffrey Reading, that for years he had been `the highest paid public officer in the State’, that `his lifestyle was frugal’, that he had `taken out a series of maturing endowment policies’, that `he was a very successful punter’, that he had benefited from the will of his brother, and that he was skilled in financial affairs and a most successful stock market investor. Though the Department of Taxation made no finding of criminality, it determined that a substantial part of Askin’s estate was generated through undisclosed income from sources other than shares or punting and taxed it accordingly. Lady Askin, childless, and a devoted wife who almost certainly had no idea that he conducted a number of extramarital affairs, survived him and inherited most of his estate. Her estate was valued at $3.725 million; a substantial part of it, too, was taxed. A portrait (1968) of Askin by Judy Cassab hangs in the New South Wales Parliament.

Yep, you can be shamelessly corrupt, and get hung in Parliament in a most genteel way.

It was only years after, with books like David Hickie's The Prince and the Pauper that the depth of the corruption was revealed.

Like the days of prohibition in the United States, the corruption relied on petty vice to generate cash flow - people who wanted a drink out of hours, or a little gambling casino style, or to pay for sex, or do some drugs, or to take a walk on the wild side and hang out with trannys at Les Girls.

Criminals supplied the services, and the police licensed the services and politicians were paid to look the other way.

Naturally the criminals looked to legitimise themselves further by embarking on sensible business activities. Such as tearing down parts of Sydney and re-building it at substantial profit. And if that involved the murder of an activist, hey you don't fix an engine without getting a little grease on your hands ...

It also led to what might be called the John Singleton defence.

The people in the 1950s, 60s and 70s were no different to those in 1850s, 60s, 70s. They wanted a drink, a bet and a good time and they weren’t about to let some dumb laws stand in their way. 
There were those who supplied the demand they became criminals. 
There were those who had to be paid off to let it all happen and they became corrupt. Is that the shocking truth or just the inevitable way life is? (Come back Bob - It was all in fun!)

Actually, if you were a politician, you theoretically had the power to change the laws, and remove the rackets. The pond is always in favour of fun, but if you can't rely on politicians to devise sensible laws, and police to police them, what's the point of having either of them in the house?

The truth is, neither the pollies or the cops were much interested in reform. Why let a little actual political activity, and law-making, get in the way of the rackets and nice little earners?

Singleton's squeal came from the way he was a facilitator and a player in the Askin game ...

You could almost smell the saintliness in the air in his defence gambit:

From that time on the commercials became part of the legend and the friendship I had with Bob Askin became one of a father and the son he had never had. 
Bob quit politics and we shared regular luncheons where the wine and stories flowed as the afternoons became nights. 
I loved the cynical old bastard. I saw the good, soft side of Bob Askin. I saw the tough side. I never saw a bent side if there was one.

It's hard to see a bent side through rose-coloured glasses, and the sobbing tears of filial piety and respect.

The excuse Singleton offered was a pathetic nonsense of course. If everyone followed the logic there'd be chaos - don't like a law, why then feel free to break it.

Supposed to be a cop policing the law, but find it too hard to police? Why just take that brown paper bag sir and have a nice laugh at the joke.

Worried about where your next gambling dollar is coming from Mr Premier? Concerned that you leave your wife a decent estate and that you get hung in parliament? No worries, and as a bonus, we'll thrown in John Singleton explaining how what you did was merely a community service and not a hypocrisy and corruption of the first water ...

Flash forward to today, and we're about to get a whole new ICAC circus, and along with it, no doubt a set of apologists doing their thing, and explaining how ICAC is a Star Chamber that's wrongly persecuting the political class, and how shocking and disrespectful it is (just as everybody was shocked and consternated when the mud was thrown at Askin and it stuck).

Usually this gaggle of apologists - you can find a lot of them in the Murdoch press - were as happy as pigs in mud when the Labor party was being done over; now it's the Liberal party and its hacks being given the slow roast, there's much consternation and hand wringing.

The reality is that corruption in Sydney is bipartisan and always has been. The Labor government that preceded Askin was remarkably corrupt, and Labor councils were routinely in the thick of it.

Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown, and this nice little anecdote for the ABC show The Track sort of conjures up the spirit:

John Singleton, once made TV commercials portraying Bob Hawke's Labor mates as Stalinist. Now they were co-owners of a horse, called Belle De Jour. Their filly was left four lengths behind when the Slipper field jumped. But then, she got up to win. The miracle of that victory had Singleton, as promised, shouting the entire public bar of Rosehill. He refused to buy the members a beer. No doubt the gesture - not to mention his kissing the ex-Prime Minister who believed we all once loved him - is now part of racing folklore. Wherever he is, Perc Galea, would have smiled. (here)

Yes you too can be a Stalinist who lies down with a capitalist, and gets up sharing ownership of a horse named after a Buñuel heroine who craves a life as a prostitute and ritual humiliation ...

Traditionalists will remember that these days there was much titillation when it was revealed Liberal party fundraiser Nicholas Di Girolamo owned shares with AWH shareholder John Rippon in a racehorse called Partners in Crime.

Well the circus is cranking into gear again today, as foreshadowed yesterday in ICAC's reality politics better than reality TV:

The continuing inquiries by the Independent Commission Against Corruption are proving that reality politics can be more riveting than reality TV. The next ICAC episode, which starts on Monday, is expected to deliver several twists and turns given that its backdrop is the stench of corruption surrounding developers, their hefty donations to political parties and possible favourable outcomes.

It's just as well. The pond long ago turned away from TV in favour of the sight of the insatiable greed of Sydney-siders willing to do anything to obtain a dwelling with at the least a harbourside glimpse, along with a share in a racehorse with a funny name ...

And it turns out that today, the commentariat, as if aware that a real circus is about to happen, have turned their attention to almost anything else they can find.

The best Paul Sheehan can offer is a cobbled together, mashed up, beat up about Facebook and Google,  but the only thing useful in Google's influence balloons thanks to maps and drones is a reminder that Project Loon still lives, and not just on the pond ...

According to the Fairfax date, it's already a couple of days old though it's presented this Monday as a new feast, when in reality it's months old, and shows Sheehan flinging together secondary sources in a way that suggests he really doesn't have much of a clue about anything when it comes to being a futurist.

Next the pond tried Tim Blair, a man who routinely makes a gadfly sound like a heavyweight ready to tackle a world champion ...

Yes, the gadfly likes to pass himself off as a humorist, but if you can find a single sharp satirical thrust in ABC faces the facts in donkey business why you're way sharper than the pond.

Blair managed to leap frog from this variant on a Murdochian assault on the ABC, and never you mind that Simpson was a radical trade unionist and deserter ratbag:

It’s probable, the ABC reported, that there was more than one donkey. 
The ABC was so stunned by this multiple-donkey scoop that it was mentioned four times online and on video. Talk about destroying an Australian military legend! All these years, whenever we’ve spoken about Simpson and his donkey, we really should have been saying Simpson and his donkeys. It’s enough to make you question everything we know about our nation’s history. 
As it happens, there has never been much dispute over Simpson’s several donkeys. Contemporaneous accounts report that they used to get shot all the time, as you’d expect in the circumstances. The ABC’s myth-busting is nearly 100 years late. Still, now we’ve got that fraud Simpson and his welter of donkeys out of the way, the ABC’s fact-checkers can move on to other crucial areas of contention, beginning with: 

Yes, yes, from that, to this:

Mr Squiggle — Everybody remembers passive-aggressive pencilnosed Squiggle for his eerie ability to complete unfinished drawings. 
 How did he do it? Was Squiggle secretly assisted by Miss Jane or Rocket? Was his head just a handle, manipulated by unseen forces? And why was Squiggle cancelled just two years before September 11? Video analysis continues as the fact-checkers aim to put us in the picture.

It's like watching a man with a pickaxe or a baseball bat or a blunderbuss firing away and mistaking it for a comedy outing.

It's as funny as watching paint dry. It generates sympathy for the ABC, this sort of leaden stuff, where none is deserved or required.

On and on Blair goes, about as clever as a pie in the face and as subtle as that banana peel left in wait in the street.

How pathetic does it get?

Well Blair even ends up recycling Skippy:

Skippy — For decades, biologists have been vexed by Skippy the bush kangaroo’s aptitude for dialling telephones, pushing buttons, gathering small objects and otherwise adapting in a primitive but remarkably adroit way to his surroundings. “These abilities invariably vanish when Skippy is viewed in anything other than close-up shots showing only his paws,” a researcher explains. “In all of the wide shots we’ve seen, he just hops around like an idiot. “The dichotomy is inexplicable.”

That was fresh when Abe Saffron was putting on shows at Les Girls.

As for the Bolter?

Well he was still represented today in the Daily Terror by this piece:

The pond knew at once that Peter Underwood had done and said a number of sensible things. Whatever they might be ...

It got so desperate the pond even hunted out Prattling Polonius, a man now much reduced in substance and routinely ignored by the editors at the lizard Oz, who rarely give him a featured splash on the rotating digital finger of doom at the top of the page.

The best he could offer on Saturday in Parliament will be interesting enough without the myths?

Tony Abbott’s Coalition government has completed about 20 per cent of its term. It makes sense, at this relatively early stage of the political cycle, to challenge some of the prevailing mythology. 
 ● Myth one: Tony Abbott and the Coalition are travelling poorly.

Myth two was that Gerard Henderson never wears rose-coloured glasses ...

Well you have to hand it to Polonius, he's way funnier than Tim Blair.

But what the pond yearns for is the circus where you can see the best of Sydney's clowns, so let the show begin yet again ...

(Below: Abe Saffron showing how to pose)


  1. I notice yesterday Bolt lauded Andrew Neil - or Brillo as he is known.

    This is some of Neil's history -

    Neil was editor of The Sunday Times from 1983 until 1994. His hiring was controversial. It was argued that he was appointed by Rupert Murdoch over more experienced colleagues, such as Hugo Young and Brian MacArthur.

    While at The Sunday Times in 1988, Neil met the former Miss India, Pamella Bordes, in a nightclub. The News of the World suggested she was an up-market prostitute. Sir Peregrine Worsthorne argued, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, that Neil was not fit to edit a serious Sunday newspaper, on the grounds that "playboys" should not be editors. In a subsequent libel case, Neil sued Worsthorne and won £1,000 plus costs.

    The Sunday Times during this period campaigned for a fringe and already discredited claim that AIDS was not an infectious disease and was not caused by HIV. In 1992 Neil was criticised by Anti-Nazi groups and historian Hugh Trevor-Roper among others for employing, as a translator of the diaries of Joseph Goebbels, the Holocaust denier David Irving.

    In 1988 he also became founding chairman of Sky TV, also part of Murdoch's News Corporation.

    Neil - a great Murdochian. And he now edits The Spectator, the UK equivalent of Quadrant.

    OK, maybe he's not quite such a pro-Maggie rightist figure as Bolt makes out. Under his editorship the Times did break the Mordechai Vanunu Israeli atomic weapons story, which he regards as his greatest scoop. But this was of no interest to Bolt.

  2. But there's a complication here. Neil replaced the previous editor of The Times in 1983, after their publication of The Hitler Diaries was shown to be a fake, even though supported by historian Hugh Trevor-Roper (who retracted his support before publication.)

    "During a phone conversation with Sunday Times editor Frank Giles shortly before publication of the diaries, Trevor-Roper retracted his support of authenticity, but Murdoch made the decision to publish." Wiki

    Does Murdoch have a problems with Nazi history and Jews?

  3. These links could be bad for your mental health. But Murdoch's pro-Zionist and anti-liberal-Jews stance has been taken up with a vengeance by the anti-semite white supremacist brigade who Bolt seems to be in bed with.

    Maybe it's gonna bite him in the bum some day?

  4. As Tim Blair proves, ;the ABC may have their donkeys while Murdoch definitely has his asses.


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