Michael Darby

Observations on politics and poetry by Australian bush poet, Michael Darby.

Michael was born in Sydney in 1945 and is a former Australian Army Officer who has been writing and broadcasting on politics and economics since 1972.

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Saturday, March 22, 2003


Federal A.L.P. leader SIMON CREAN UTTERLY LACKS CREDIBILITY. His problem is that his method of policy formulation is chasing public opinion. By contrast, Prime Minister John Howard adopts a policy stance which might not be popular at the time, and then he sets out to win the public over. New South Wales Liberal Party leader John Brogden approaches policy in the same way, which is why the Prime Minister on Sunday 16 March 2003 at the Liberal Policy launch described John Brogden as a “man with ticker”.

Having “ticker” means that a politician is willing to risk unpopularity for the sake of doing what is right.

The incumbent N.S.W. Premier has been going down the same path as Simon Crean. Throughout the N.S.W. election campaign, the Premier has waited for the Labor organisation to poll voters on their reaction to each Opposition policy initiative. If a particular John Brogden policy appears to strike a favourable chord with the voters, then Labor comes out with a copycat promise.



Opposition Leader Simon Crean has condemned the government for recklessly committing troops to a US-led war on Iraq, warning it made Australia more of a terrorist target.

Mr Crean said Prime Minister John Howard had joined forces with an immoral minority by committing Australia to war without the sanction of the United Nations.

"For the first time in the history of this country Australia has joined as an aggressor in war," he said.

Australian troops will join any military action by US-led forces to disarm Iraq after federal cabinet this morning agreed to a formal request from US President George W Bush.

Mr Crean stressed his objections were aimed at the government - not the Australian troops serving their country.

"I will always support our troops," he said.

He attacked the government for acquiescing to the US, accusing it of subservience and highlighting foreign policy differences between Labor and the coalition.

While Labor would continue to support Australia's alliance with the US, it would not allow it to dictate the terms of the nation's foreign policy.

"There is a fundamental difference between supporting a US alliance and being subservient to it," Mr Crean told parliament.

"It's never in Australia's interest to have our foreign policy determined by another country."

Mr Crean said Mr Howard had capitulated to a request from Mr Bush, committing Australia to an unnecessary war.

"The action proposed by this government is disproportionate to the threat," he said.

Mr Crean warned the use of military force against Iraq would make Australia less safe in the region.

"The action that the government has taken today in committing us to war will make us less secure in the region, not more secure," he said.

"In fact, it will make us a target. This war that this government has declared and been involved in today will spawn more terrorism and spawn more terrorists."

Mr Crean said the prime minister had failed to make the case for war.

"He has established no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, no link between Iraq and the events of September 11, and no link between the Iraqi regime and the Bali bombings," he said.

"He has made assertions of that but he has demonstrated no evidence and no facts that justify it, nor has he produced one skerrick of evidence to demonstrate that Iraq poses a real and immediate threat to our security.

"That is the obligation he is required to demonstrate if he is to invoke the use of force."

He also accused the government of hypocrisy for taking a hardline stance against Iraq while remaining silent on the issue of North Korea.

"The circumstances of North Korea ... go back to 1994, and yet this government continues to tolerate those circumstances but complains that 12 years is too long in the case of Iraq," he said.

More here. Mr Crean’s moral gymnastics come down to this. The war which he describes as “unnecessary” would have been otherwise if the UN Security Council had (again) voted in favour of it.


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Friday, March 21, 2003


AN ALLEGED TERRORIST accused of helping the Sept. 11 conspirators was invited to a party by the Iraqi ambassador to Spain under his al-Qaida pseudonym, according to documents seized by Spanish investigators and turned over to U.S. authorities, the London Observer reports.

Yusuf Galan, who was photographed being trained at a camp run by Osama bin Laden, is now in jail, awaiting trial in Madrid. The indictment against him, drawn up by investigating judge Baltasar Garzon, claims he was "directly involved with the preparation and carrying out of the attacks ... by the suicide pilots on 11 September."

Evidence of Galan's links with Iraqi government officials came to light only recently, as investigators pored through more than 40,000 pages of documents seized in raids at the homes of Galan and seven alleged co-conspirators. The Spanish authorities have supplied copies to lawyers in America, and this week the documents will form part of a dossier to be filed in a federal court in Washington, claiming damages of approximately $100 billion on behalf of more than 2,500 Sept. 11 victims, according to the Observer report.

The lawsuit lists Saddam's government in Iraq as one of its principal defendants, claiming it provided "material support" to the al-Qaida terrorists.

While many opposing the invasion of Iraq have been sceptical of the al-Qaida-Iraq link, in recent months George Tenet, director of the CIA, has made increasingly strong statements alleging such a connection. In congressional testimony, he said that Iraq had co-operated with al-Qaida for 10 years, and that it had trained al-Qaida members in bomb-making and the use of chemical and biological weapons.

The evidence in support of the Sept. 11 damages claim cites several examples of this alleged co-operation. They include the terrorist training camp at Salman Pak near Baghdad, where former Iraqi intelligence brigadier Jamal al-Qurairy has said that non-Iraqi Islamic radicals were trained to hijack aircraft using knives.

More here.



IN DECEMBER 1989, Bucharest was a depressing place. Darkness reigned over Romania. The people suffered from lack of food, heat and electricity due to a rationing policy imposed by the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in order to finance foreign debt and his megalomaniacal construction projects. Free media were silenced. There was no freedom, only fear, along with repression, international isolation and a pervasive cult of personality.

In a sweeping wave of courage, Romanians' long-restrained thirst for freedom and democratic governance mobilized them to overthrow dictatorship, regain dignity and seek a better life. The army was ordered to stifle the revolution, but it refused. Instead, the military took the side of its brothers in the streets and freedom prevailed, although not without sacrifice. But once the Romanian people had the will to stand up firm and united, the edifice of dictatorship collapsed in hours.

More than 13 years later, Romania is going through a challenging, yet irreversible and beneficial, process of integration into the community of democratic nations. Freedom has not come without a price: economic hardship, unemployment and a painful reduction of average Romanians' ability to feed their families. But nobody in Romania seriously doubts the fundamental choice made in December 1989: to live in democracy and freedom and build a functioning market economy. The sacrifices we made to pass from totalitarianism to democracy have not been in vain. After years of recession, our economy has grown steadily since 2000, inflation has eased substantially and investments are expanding. Privatization, restructuring and economic modernization are advancing. Last year in Prague we were invited to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. We are negotiating our accession to the European Union, and the Copenhagen summit of last December called on us to be prepared to join the EU in 2007. But most important, Romania's transformation has restored self-esteem and dignity to our nation.

Romania supports all U.N. resolutions calling for Iraq's disarmament, resolutions that the Iraqi regime has so far chosen to ignore. As a member of the United Nations, Iraq has the obligation to observe the resolutions of the Security Council. Failure to do so has serious consequences, including the use of force.

Romanians, who lived, as did all Europeans, through two terrible world wars, still prefer peaceful diplomatic solutions. But they also understand the need for the international community to act against the threat of weapons of mass destruction posed by a regime that endangers international peace and stability. As President Bush said in Bucharest, we "know the difference between good and evil because we have seen evil's face."

More here.


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Thursday, March 20, 2003


PRIME MINISTER JOHN HOWARD has acted on the basis of principle in leading his Cabinet to a decision supporting the United States of America in issuing a final ultimatum to Iraq.

The likely course of events is:

· Saddam Hussein refuses to accept exile and demands from his army and his subjects unswervingly loyal resistance to the Allies.

· A massive Allied rocket barrage rapidly destroys most of Iraq’s military communications and command system, eliminates the Iraqi airforce, cripples most Iraqi mobile units and interdicts the movement of the remainder.

· Iraqi attempts to attack the Allied forces and Israel with Scud missiles carrying chemical and biological weapons prove ineffectual, defeated by superior technology.

· France offers to assist the Allies and is contemptuously rebuffed.

· Iraqi commanders at all but the highest levels are principally concerned about saving themselves, and mass desertions and surrenders reduce resistance to token levels.

· Sporadic Islamist attempts at terror attacks against US assets in Africa and East Asia have little impact. The French are astonished that France’s demonstration of feebleness leads to far more serious Islamist terrorist attacks against French assets.

· Turkey mobilises in the hope of moving against the Kurds, but (having failed to support the Allies as requested) is firmly warned to stay put. The Allies grant defacto recognition to a Kurdish nation in Northern Iraq.

· Sabotage of oil wells is limited by the speed of Iraqi collapse, and is quickly rectified.

· Saddam Hussein flees to Libya, leaving one of his doubles to suffer a Mussolini-style end at the hands of an angry mob.

· Defecting Iraqi scientists and military officers reveal the location of stocks of illegal weaponry.

· The world is horrified by evidence of Iraqi torture chambers and mass graves.

· The Allies deliver massive food aid and medical aid to the Iraqi population.

· Allied casualties are minimal, on a scale similar to major military exercises.

· The Australian Labor Party finds a new leader and Jacques Chirac retires early.

· The American people – independently of their government – resolve to reward through trade and tourism those nations which shared the burden. This stimulates strong economic growth in the Iberian peninsula and Eastern Europe.

· The price of oil falls below US$25 per barrel.

· John Pilger and Bob Brown accuse the USA and Australia of murdering Iraqi babies and of using nuclear weapons against Iraq.

· The Allies collaborate in dealing with other unpleasant dictators, especially in North Korea and Zimbabwe.

· In the longer term, the United States forgives Russia for its dalliance with the FrancoBoche, and the world policeman restructures itself with significant reliance upon Russian troops, bankrolled of course by the USA.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2003


By Hon. I.R. Causley

On 22 November 1952 Lang Hancock and his wife, Hope, were in a small aircraft—an Auster — over the Hamersley Ranges when they were caught in a storm. As Lang watched the storm clouds closing in behind him and realised that he could not fly out of the building squall, he decided to duck below it and was forced to follow the gorges to get out of this life-threatening situation. Lang Hancock knew his country, but the metalliferous bands that were layered in the gorge and highlighted by the wet from the storm intrigued him. The memory of those deposits stayed in his mind until he returned some months later to seek samples. Lang Hancock returned to sample the iron ore deposits, landing his small plane in the spinifex and taking samples in the hot sun over 50 to 60 miles. Those samples were tested and found to be of a high grade. In fact, the analysis showed that they were two per cent higher in iron than the ore being used in the blast furnaces in the USA. It was obvious to Lang Hancock that the area of the deposits was extensive.

For this tough boy from the bush, this self-educated Australian, this was the beginning of a 10-year battle with governments to convince them that their iron ore embargo was based on a false premise. Lang Hancock persisted with endless discussions and presented his belief in the vastness of his iron ore discovery in a straight, no frills way to governments for more than eight years. Many a gloomy predication said that Australia had minimal iron ore reserves, but Lang Hancock hung onto his belief that Australia could supply the rest of the world. While Lang Hancock battled bureaucracy, other discoveries were made, including the Mount Whaleback deposit in 1957, which is estimated to have current reserves of nearly 1.5 million tonnes of high-grade iron ore. Lang Hancock said:

Well people knowing this throughout the world, people interested in iron ore, knew that there was no iron ore in Australia, and here was I, a boy from the bush, no experience, no education, no letters after my name or anything, to tell them that I'd found by far the world's largest iron ore deposits, a whole field actually, and you know, 30 or 40 firms throughout the world said, `Run away, it's a lot of rubbish.'

Unbeknown to me, they rang up what was then known as the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra and Dr Argot, the head of it, said, `Hancock's talking through his hat, we've done a magnetometer survey of all that area and there is nothing there.' So then they came back to me and I said, `Well look if there is nothing there you pay me a royalty—if there is nothing there it doesn't cost you anything.'

Over and over again it was the same old story for Lang—the endless myth about Australian iron ore—and for almost a decade there was no progress, despite Lang's dedication and determination. Finally, Lang won his day with the lifting of the iron ore ban and this coincided with the phenomenal growth of the Japanese steel industry, which provided the catalyst for a massive growth in the development of the Pilbara's resources.

Lang Hancock never stopped selling the idea that the Pilbara had massive amounts of quality iron ore. Rio Tinto, in Lang's words, `kept dithering so I found out that the power lay with a chap named Duncan in England and I set out to persuade him'. An agreement was reached and this agreement became the foundation for what is now Hamersley Iron and had much to do with the subsequent merger of Rio Tinto and Consolidated Zinc into what is now CRA of Australia.

James R. Barber of Kaiser Steel USA, in a letter dated 22 December 1996, said:

Lang Hancock personally discovered large quantities of iron ore in the Hamersleys as early as 1952, prior to the lifting of the embargo. He collected samples and had them analyzed. He knew he had made major finds, which could alter the world's pattern of iron ore supply. From the start he had the vision, the comprehension and the faith that was required to set the stage for the development of these resources on a scale commensurate with their value. He thought in world terms, rather than just national. It is this early comprehension of the order of magnitude of the scene yet to unfold that set him apart.

Lang Hancock encouraged participation by overseas firms such as Kaiser Steel. Lang took Tom Price in hand when Tom Price went to examine ore deposits. Lang flew him about showing him the ore and always talking—talking about the potential of the Pilbara. Without the strength and enthusiasm of Lang Hancock there would be no Hamersley Iron.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

By Geoff Fairley

The balloon ban was brought into existence by the current Carr government of New South Wales on the basis of a 'knee jerk reaction' initiated by the totally inconclusive supposed research conducted by a 9 year old school girl. This with the Olympics in mind and with the support of some of the more radical 'green' elements of the Labor Party, resulted in a ban of BALLOON RELEASES.

The legislation was put through on party lines as a caucus decision thinking that there would be some sort of massive release for the Olympic Games (this was never at all planned) and so an industry was unfairly penalized by a decision based on flawed and totally misleading information.

As an industry association we are very aware of all environmental issues and at all times seek to ensure that our members do the right thing in themselves not doing anything to harm the environment and also informing our customers similarly. We have a rule of principle that if balloons have a chance of being released that they have no non biodegradable components ie. that they be hand knotted without using a plastic clip and that the 'string' is jute or cotton and not an artificial non biodegradable substance.

The information that we now provide you with should if you read it with an open mind satisfy you that balloons are not and never have or will be an environmental hazard and therefore we seek your support in repealing an ill-conceived and flawed law. See here

This does not mean that we wish to go out and immediately do releases of thousands of balloons because in the main it is the smaller sporting and national organizations and groups and often for small and private events such as for funerals (as a symbolic gesture) where the release of balloons, which has been happening all over the world with NO detriment to the environment for many years, is a requirement.



Letter from Michael Squires

Excellent report Michael. I admire your energy in preparing such a wide ranging review whilst campaigning,

I worry that the Liberals have not removed the gloves on the issue of health care. This area is the socialist Achilles heel. If you have any influence, then tell the leader of the Opposition that he must go for the jugular and demonstrate that he is a fighter. Mr. Brogden should not be worried about his media profile.... just get in there and kick some ass. He won't have a second chance. Maybe the lad doesn't quite appreciate the benefits and fruits of being El Supremo.

Meanwhile Comrade Sheik Mahatir continues to vent his ethnic and religious dribble on all who will listen. Great poem Michael. The trouble with dictators in sheep's clothing is that they have no succession plan. When the bastard falls off the perch he will most likely be replaced by some person whose only form of "higher education" will have come from an Islamic guerrilla warfare school. I really don't like the idea of my 7 year old boy having to wear a uniform in 11 years, but it sure as hell looks like the bleeding hearts of the world are paving the way for an almighty confrontation.

My advice. Get the weak and spineless out of power; get yourself and like-minded people into government. Get a free trade agreement with the US. Base a Carrier Battle Group in Far North Queensland and let's save the socialist minded populace from themselves.


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Monday, March 17, 2003


By Selwyn Johnston

Productivity Commissioner, Neil Byron, has joined the conga-line of academics, scientists and bureaucrats who identify agriculture chemicals as a source of damage to the Great Barrier Reef, and a threat to Queensland's tourism industry.

Queensland's primary producers, particularly cane farmers and graziers, have been blamed as lacking in industry best management practices resulting in chemical and topsoil runoff into rivers and streams, subsequently polluting the Reef's ecosystem.

Should an 'independent and unbiased' report produce substantial evidence of chemical and topsoil runoff as, in fact, a cause of damage to the Reef then it is absolute nonsense to attribute blame to primary producers.

Farmers use agricultural products produced by chemical manufacturers under licence and certified by government statutory bodies. If chemicals are the problem, then fix the problem by cancelling manufacturing licences and certification of the offending chemicals.

The question of runoff, a result of normal rainfall, has the potential of costing the State government significantly. Queensland's Water Act 2000, section 19 clearly states: 'All rights to the use, flow and control of all water in Queensland are vested in the State'.

As it is State owned and controlled water that is stripping agriculture chemicals and topsoil from farmers properties and dumping them onto the Reef, perhaps a class action seeking compensation for farmers losses, and legal action under current environmental legislation, should be a consideration against the State government.



From Eddie Cross

I want you to read the following letter as it starkly sets out the use of the Police and the holding cells as a means of political intimidation and forms of Police violence against all forms of protest. As Justice Paradza discovered - the cells are also filthy, without blankets or running water and the toilets are crude and cannot be flushed. Lice and insects are common. The people listed in this note were cricket fans - not street kids or hooligans. The youngsters were school kids attending the cricket because they play cricket at school or have family that plays cricket.

FURTHER TO YOUR ARTICLE today regarding protesting at the Cricket. There were in fact 42 people arrested on Friday. Some were merely bystanders who were hauled in with the protesters. What is very worrying is the young boy in hospital (Kindness Moyo), apparently still in a coma and, what only came to light this evening.

(Monday), a missing young woman. The police have told her husband she is at UBH (Byo Central Hospital) but he has checked and she is not there. Her name is Similo Mpofu.

The police went to her home on Friday evening and asked for a change of clothing for her saying that the clothes she had on were covered in blood. He has not heard anything since. When the Advocate asked about her this evening, the police refused to say where she was.

Two more youths were arrested today from their homes which makes a total of 30 still in detention in various police stations plus the missing girl and the boy in hospital.

The whole of Saturday the prisoners were not fed at all by the police. They would not have had anything if our support had not included them and dished out food for them too. I asked a policeman why they were not giving the prisoners food and he replied that because of the situation there was no food. On Saturday a load of mealie meal was delivered to Police Central and each member of the police got his share and today tonnes of mealie meal were delivered. Not one bag was kept for the prisoners.


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Sunday, March 16, 2003
Iraq strengthens air force with French parts

By Bill Gertz

A French company has been selling spare parts to Iraq for its fighter jets and military helicopters during the past several months, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The unidentified company sold the parts to a trading company in the United Arab Emirates, which then shipped the parts through a third country into Iraq by truck. The spare parts included goods for Iraq's French-made Mirage F-1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters.

An intelligence official said the illegal spare-parts pipeline was discovered in the past two weeks and that sensitive intelligence about the transfers indicates that the parts were smuggled to Iraq as recently as January. Other intelligence reports indicate that Iraq had succeeded in acquiring French weaponry illegally for years, the official said. The parts appear to be included in an effort by the Iraqi military to build up materiel for its air forces before any U.S. military action, which could occur before the end of the month.

The officials identified the purchaser of the parts as the Al Tamoor Trading Co., based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A spokesman for the company could not be reached for comment. The French military parts were then sent by truck into Iraq from a neighboring country the officials declined to identify.

Iraq has more than 50 Mirage F-1 jets and an unknown number of Gazelle attack helicopters, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. An administration official said the French parts transfers to Iraq may be one reason France has so vehemently opposed U.S. plans for military action against Iraq. "No wonder the French are opposing us," this official said.

The disclosure comes amid heightened anti-French sentiment in the United States over Paris' opposition to U.S. plans for using force to disarm Iraq. A senior defense official said France undermined U.S. efforts to disarm Iraq last year by watering down language of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 that last fall required Iraq to disarm all its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

France has been Iraq's best friend in the West. French arms sales to Baghdad were boosted in the 1970s under Premier Jacques Chirac, the current president. Mr. Chirac once called Saddam Hussein a "personal friend."

During the 1980s, when Paris backed Iraq in its war against Iran, France sold Mirage fighter bombers and Super Entendard aircraft to Baghdad, along with Exocet anti-ship missiles.

French-Iraqi ties soured after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that led to the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

France now has an estimated $4 billion in debts owed to it by Iraq as a result of arms sales and infrastructure construction projects. The debt is another reason U.S. officials believe France is opposing military force to oust Saddam.

More here



For countless centuries in civilised societies it has been the expectation that if children are deprived of their parents, then they will be brought up by the grandparents if the latter are able.

Your readers might not all be aware that in New South Wales when a parenting relationship collapses, perhaps because of drugs, the Department of Community Services (DoCS) has the official policy that grandparents must NOT be allowed to care for their grandchildren. This policy deliberately inflicts stress and pain in an environment where the collapse of the parenting function has already created stress and pain enough.

I received today a letter from the Director General of DoCS. I don’t think I have read a more sanctimonious load of drivel in a long long time! I am too angry now to compose a reply, but intend to respond vehemently tomorrow in writing, by way of fax.

My granddaughter has been moved to her new carer, this morning. I requested that we see her and meet her new carer, The little girl was quite agitated when we left and seemed "angry", and confused, obviously missing her former carer. I requested that we accompany my granddaughter to the doctor with her new carer, but was told it wasn't necessary, which concerned me, especially as soon as I handed her to new carer she burst into tears and literally tried to leap back in my arms.

We have access to our granddaughter on Saturday, the day after the court hearing. We intend to oppose DoC’s application that our granddaughter be placed under the parental responsibility of the Minister to the age of 18 years based on the Court not being privy to her medical conditions, and lack of medical results, and also because we wish our granddaughter to be placed permanently with us. The Good Lord knows that she wants to be with her grandparents.

I also received a standard drivel response today from the Minister's assistant private secretary, stating "I wish to acknowledge receipt of your letter to the Hon Carmel Tebbutt MLC. The Minister will consider the issues you have raised and a response will be forwarded as soon as possible." This is bureaucratic language meaning “Your letter will not even be read by the Minister.”

I have urged everyone I know to consider carefully who they vote for, and if they want to protect the children of this State then they must vote Liberal, otherwise children in need will continue to suffer and or die in the hands of this Department.


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