Gillard’s ball and chain

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Opinion

“I was young and naïve,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard has often said about her choice of men. Comprehensive reporting of  her Labor paramours, whether married or not, combined with various advantages might suggest she is not naïve, novice, nor prudent.

Today’s acrimonious battle for the levers of power could be equated to a boxing bout where the referee choses to ignore eye-gouging, hitting below the belt, putting the boot in while the opponent is on the canvas and shrill, verbal abuse. But the most telling damage, as any boxer will tell you, are body blows. They accumulate like sacks of concrete upon the shoulders, bowing the legs and crossing the eyes, preparing the dazed sucker for that inevitable, knockout punch.

Unintended and uncalculated body blows upon Julia Gillard is landed by her present main squeeze, Australia’s “First Bloke,” Tim Mathieson. The ex barber has become a political ball and chain around Julia’s leg. Tim’s erratic behaviour has earned the disparaging title of, Australia’s “First Joke” or Julia’s “handbag.”

His cultural leap from tittle-tattle gossip in his cash-strapped Salon de Coiffures, to “a somebody” at The Lodge, a grand, four-acre spread at 5 Adelaide Avenue Deakin, and Kirribilli House while in Sydney, launched an inordinate sense of self-importance.

His stage debut evoked sniggers with his “royal wave” and a chummy thumbs-up from the doorway of  “RAAF One” when departing to wherever on official diplomatic missions. Some foreign heads of state thought Tim was the PM—Tim acted so.

Cloyingly patronised by a leftist media, the First Joke’s sense of national worth grew like fungus in a wet gumboot. When egos command, sensibilities are first casualties, especially when prudence, diplomacy, and smarts were never moderators.

Tim really put people offside when he spoke about his daily activities at the Lodge while his meal ticket sprayed venom at the Opposition in parliament. The Sun Herald interviewed Tim: “At home at The Lodge, he behaves like a very caring and solicitous partner, delivering the busy PM her morning paper and helping with an early morning blow wave for the television cameras.” And, when his freebies are limited: “Then I have to recover during the day and sit on the couch and watch Parliament, which usually puts you to sleep.” Poor Tim!

Diplomatic “clangers” became de rigueur, perplexing Gillard’s itinerary organisers. Her visit to Indonesia and Malaysia, both conservative Islamic nations, with boyfriend in tow showed disrespect for her host’s trenchancy on un-married domestic liaisons. “Khalwat” is the sexual misconduct criminal charge that carries two-years’ jail.

Tim was the “first spouse” in the UN’s 67-year history to attend a tea party hosted by the UN General-Secretary’s wife Ban Soon-Taek. Craving approbation Tim cracked a funny about prostate cancer. He recommended for the rectal examination a small, Asian female doctor. That gaff went global instantly. Coursing the UN’s halls of gossip during that visit was that Tim had somehow infected Julia with a stomach bug. Julia denied that.

Tim’s Okka trademark on the international stage caused Labor handlers to engage the services of a “diplomacy tutor” to help him with “…scheduling of his official events…” His irreverent “You again!” blurt, when meeting the Queen for a second time made news—the lessons didn’t work.

Tim’s “don’t you know who I am” attitude is exemplified when it comes to driving government cars, especially to his favourite, free sporting events of which there are many. Football, motor grand prix, cricket, horse racing, portrait galleries, cricket, and rock concerts. Red-light running, smashing into things and parking infractions are documented.

From this taxpayer’s perspective, Tim Mathieson is little better than a bludging liability upon the Office of the Prime Minister. His recent interference in the Richmond footy club about who they should not invite to their rooms is risible. His angry email to Tigers CEO Brendon Gale said. “Mate u need to speak with Ben Hubbard on why Abbott was taken down to the rooms…” What nerve!

The latest perk is for “Tim-the-bikey” to raise funds for the Catch-Up School in Cambodia. A noble pursuit, were there no similar poverty in Australia. The trip is expected to have about 50 riders and starts at Kirribilli House in Sydney, on to The Lodge in Canberra, via Wollongong and Kangaroo Valley. Tim’s mount is a new bike on loan from BMW.

Freebies lavished upon celebrities and influential people are common. But business needs “bang for their buck.” I predict September 15th will see “The First Joke” packing his portmanteau and returning his stable of on-loan “toys.” What I can’t predict is: whether Julia will still be around and if she is, will she give Tim the boot for being such a ball and chain?

Either way, without the hook of Gillard’s high office, Tim’s commercial and charitable value will be zip. Any bets that his extensive, official wardrobe of fineries will be auctioned on eBay?

 

A “religion of love and peace?”

The "religion of love and pieces" dispatches another loving scripture from the Koran. 

WASHINGTON — The violent deaths of four American diplomats in Libya during a heavily armed and possibly planned assault on a flimsily protected consulate facility on the Sept. 11 anniversary provoked a crisis in Washington on Wednesday, confronting the Obama administration with new challenges in the volatile Middle East less than two months before the presidential election.


Stevens

Follow the story here.

Canada’s UN experience a lesson for all

Keith-Topolski Keith Topolski writes on the ramifications at the UN level of a shift to the political right in Canada.

The United Nations has, since its inception, been the laughing stock of international politics. Ineffective, biased, sectarian, morally bankrupt. However, western nations have since time immemorial failed to comprehend just what a farce this organisation has descended into. The events overnight have demonstrated this once and for all, though.

Since the foundation of the United Nations, Canada has held a seat on the security council once a decade, symbolic of Canada’s traditional standing as a hotbed of North American leftist thought, with the so-called Liberal Party in Canada always favouring relations with the Islamic and Arab world rather than the United States and Israel.

However, since the rise and rise of the nearly always brilliant Stephen Harper to the Prime Ministership, Canada has moved towards a more Western friendly foreign policy, with Harper and George W Bush growing particularly close before the election of Barack Obama.

Naturally, such a shift in paradigms has seen Canada fall out of favour with nations in the Middle East. This fallout came to a head when, due to economic reasons, the Canadian government refused to allow more flights into Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver from airports based within the United Arab Emirates has resulted in that nation informing the Canadian government it has thirty days to vacate its military base, Camp Mirage. Adding to this pathetic insult, the Canadian defence minister was refused permission to visit the base because Canada is being evicted.

So grave is Canada’s reputation amongst former allies in the Middle East that negotiations saw Canada, one of the most stable nations in the world, both economically and politically, beaten out, thanks to negotiations conducted by Brazil and that bastion of democracy, Cuba, with Portugal, a nation with a debt to GDP ratio of 83.5%. Considering UN Security Council members are responsible for financing any UN peacekeeping operations, this sounds a bit like employing Alan Bond to look after your share portfolio.

Interestingly, Portugal’s support amongst the anti-western voting bloc, led by Cuba, Venezuela and the Organisations of Islam Conference, was only finalised when the socialist Portuguese government, which had previously pledged support to Canada’s bid, offered a more ‘balanced’ approach to Arab-Israeli disputes, claiming Canada’s vote would be controlled by the United States.

Such behind the scenes horsetrading would not normally arouse any concerns, but Portugal falling victim to offers of support from Middle Eastern theocracies bodes badly for the West.

While socialist Portugal pledged to support more anti-Israel motions, Canada’s Foreign Minister, Lawrence Cannon, stood firm on his principles, and that of his government, in refusing to sacrifice their core values in order to win the vote. Proclaiming such honesty and integrity at the United Nations is undoubtedly a death wish, and undoubtedly contributed to Canada’s defeat.

Indeed, Stephen Harper, in a demonstration that the principles of Canada’s conservative government cannot be sold to the highest bidder, fronted the General Assembly and proceeded to defend the Israeli government against the vicious lies perpetrated by the terrorists who boarded the Gaza flotilla under the cover of humanitarian activists. Whilst Harper was merely doing what freedom lovers know to be the right thing, be it in terms of principles or facts, he signed Canada’s death warrant in the bid for the seat normally guaranteed to Canada.

In resigning Canada to an unsuccessful bid, however, Stephen Harper has demonstrated the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations as a force for good. While we are all aware of how shallow and pathetic the United Nations is as an organisation, nobody before has sought to place themselves before the United Nations as a defender of human rights and democracy, knowing it would lose the fight.

While Portugal sold its values of democracy and human rights down the toilet (Although its socialist values of hating anyone who doesn’t conform with political correctness might indicate a different set of values in Lisbon), Canada stands tall alongside Israel, refusing to be bullied by religious bigots who take great delight in lynching people for the crime of homosexuality.

By demonstrating its commitment to its principles, Canada has successfully locked the United Nations into a position of opposing freedom, democracy and equality before the law. If ever there was a greater opportunity for conservative Western governments such as the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada to withdraw from this diseased organisation, I am yet to see it. Upon the withdrawal of these nations, future conservative governments of the USA and Australia would do well to follow suit.

The other positive to come of Canada’s defeat for a seat on the council comes from the criticisms that now abound. While many are critical of Stephen Harper’s efforts to claim a seat on the security council at the same time as expanding ties with Israel (Which makes as much sense as going on a chocolate only diet and hoping to lose weight), the noises coming out of 221 Sussex Drive are being aimed squarely as the Leader of the Opposition, the always hilarious Michael Ignatieff.

Ignatieff, although being intensely supportive of the socialistic concept of the United Nations, fought tooth and nail against Canada winning a seat on the council, claiming the Harper minority government has caused the world to ‘lose faith in the way Canada conducts its international relations’. Whilst this act of cutting off his nose to spite his face leaves sensible observers wondering which planet Ignatieff hails from, tory criticism of him might have silver lining for our own Tony Abbott.

Given the farcical efforts of the Rudd-Gillard government to secure Australia a seat on the security council, one wonders whether a more vocal opposition to such an event might, next time, incur far more political damage, rather than merely presenting the Labor Party as trying to cuddle up with such beacons of light as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. If Michael Ignatieff can claim credit for Canada’s ‘failed’ foreign policy of alignment with fellow democracies, shouldn’t Tony Abbott be entitled, if he actively campaigns, to claim credit for keeping Australia from hopping into bed with some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships?

Let Stephen Harper’s experience (mistake seems to be too harsh a word for a man who likes the USA and Israel) be Tony Abbott’s gain. Any noises coming from Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard which moves Australia to closer ties to vicious, brutal theocracies should be greeted with the strongest condemnation, and a reminder of the human rights records of these nations. Not only can the Liberal Party of Australia continue to claim the moral high ground in such discussions, but a wedge might appear between Gillard and Rudd. Now wouldn’t THAT make for some good journalistic copy!

Keith Topolski is a former member of the NSW Young Liberal Executive and is currently completing a Bachelor of Communications.

Sometimes, the Messenger Is More Important Than the Message

Dan-WhitfieldSmearing political figures online can be just as damaging as in print, writes Dan Whitfield.

Yesterday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague released a press release in which he provided intimate details of his marriage.  This was in response to internet rumors about an improper relationship between Mr. Hague and a male aide, based on the most flimsy of evidence.

The whole episode is a great shame, particularly because the male aide in question has been forced to resign having done nothing wrong.  It has led some people to question whether blogging, and other forms of journalism based exclusively on the web, are having a negative impact on political discourse in Britain and the world.

This charge is patently absurd.  Whether news is published online, on paper, or on parchment is irrelevant to the quality of the journalism that provided that news.  It is the character of those working in the news media that is important, not the medium through which they work.

At the time Hague was giving the press his statement for example, Vanity Fair published a 10,000-word article on Sarah Palin.  This is the third such piece the magazine has published since the last presidential election.  It is packed with allegations that she has a fierce temper, habitually lies, and fails to adequately raise her children.

In 10,000 words the author fails to cite a single verifiable source, and all his quotes – with the exception of one – come from anonymous sources. 

However you feel about Sarah Palin – for she is certainly a polarizing figure – it is indecent to levy so many charges against her without a scrap of evidence.

William Hague and Sarah Palin have been slimed this week, and it matters not whether the slimers worked in print or online.

Dan Whitfield is a writer living in Washington, DC, specializing in the conservative routes of America’s founding.  Previously Dan worked for the Leadership Institute, America’s largest training organization for conservative activists.

Sacrilege at Ground Zero

An excerpt from the Washington Post on the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York:

Location matters. Especially this location. Ground Zero is the site of the greatest mass murder in American history — perpetrated by Muslims of a particular Islamist orthodoxy in whose cause they died and in whose name they killed.

Of course that strain represents only a minority of Muslims. Islam is no more intrinsically Islamist than present-day Germany is Nazi — yet despite contemporary Germany's innocence, no German of goodwill would even think of proposing a German cultural center at, say, Treblinka.

Which makes you wonder about the goodwill behind Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf's proposal. This is a man who has called U.S. policy "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11 and, when recently asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, replied, "I'm not a politician…. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question."

America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That's why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn't meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.

These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero.

Build it anywhere but there.

via www.washingtonpost.com

From what I hear there are plenty of other places in New York where a mosque could be built. But the fact that it is being constructed just near the site of the 2001 attacks is not only insensitive and disrespectful but also a step backwards in building relations between Islam and mainstream America.

(Posted by Chris Browne)

The Life, Soul, and Future of the Party: Why Libertarians are Unwise to Shun the GOP

Dan-Whitfield Libertarians may be the future of the Republican Party, writes Dan Whitfield.

In November 2008, it wasn’t only the Democrats who cheered as the Republican Party suffered electoral catastrophe.  Across the country, pockets of people huddled around TVs and computer screens, celebrating the defeat of John McCain, and scores of other Republicans lower down the ticket.  They were the libertarians.

Strangely, 2008 was a good year for the defenders of liberty.  This may sound ludicrous, given that the hard-left won control of both Congress and the White House, but the global economic downturn spurred a rapid mobilization of libertarian activists dedicated to paring back the power of government.  The two major political parties had easily dismissed the libertarians as a radical fringe, but with profligate congressional spending reaching record levels, large numbers of people were drawn to the banner of liberty.

Two years later, and the revolution shows no sign of abating.  Libertarian Rand Paul – son of Congressman Ron Paul – will likely win a Senate seat in November, and elsewhere incumbent legislators are being threatened by challengers committed to smaller, less intrusive government. 

That this is the case can be attributed in large part to the decay of the Republican Party, which by 2008 was devoid of policy innovation.  Libertarian critics charged that the GOP was corrupted by power, and had been high-jacked by a small cabal of neoconservatives bent on American imperialism and bloated government spending.  Small wonder some voters were driven into the arms of Ron Paul and Bob Barr when the Republican leadership gave America the Iraq War, Medicare expansion, and banking bailouts.

The question libertarians must now ponder is how to capitalize on their successes.   If the gains glimpsed over the last two years are not sustained, the critics of the libertarian movement, who charge that it is merely a political sideshow, will be proven correct.  Given that unfunded entitlement programs are growing exponentially under the Obama administration, the next few years could prove an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for libertarians to articulate their ideas. 

Alternatively, libertarians may be swept away by an unfettered march toward federal government expansion.  

For ideological purists, future success lies far away from the GOP.  The Tea Party movement or a collection of local parties with a regional base are the best vehicles to drive a message of small government.  

According to this argument, the Republican Party is morally bankrupt, devoid of ideas, and on an irreversible electoral decline.  The GOP, the party which expanded the federal deficit to eye-wateringly high levels and engaged in aggressive adventurism abroad, can no longer be counted on as the party to defend individual freedom.   

Yet this course is fraught with difficulty.  The Libertarian Party, a long-standing American third party, has a pitifully small base of only 200,000 hardy souls, a figure totally unreflective of the degree of libertarian sentiment in the land.  Its membership is largely comprised of policy wonks, students, and ideological purists, who hardly make ideal foots soldiers in the ground game that is politics.  Their lack of numbers translates into consistently poor showings at election time, and the Libertarian Party suffers from a chronic shortage of cash.  

Even if such problems were surmounted, an independent Tea Party or other similar party would still have to contend with older, better established rivals who have cultivated a brand loyalty among millions of voters.  Barring some once-in-a-lifetime event, these bonds between voter and party will be all but impossible to break.  In 2008 for example, the nadir of Republican electoral fortunes, 46% of people still cast their ballots for Senator John McCain.  Even the most zealous of libertarians would concede that that is an impressive showing for a candidate laboring under the disasters of the previous administration.   

The lack of a viable alternative leaves the libertarians in the unenviable position of having to work within the Republican Party apparatus.  This will not be an easy task.  A tainted brand, a culture of corruption, and a tendency to ramp-up government programs in the desire to sustain power are but a handful of the problems that beset those seeking to change the GOP.  But by far the greatest problem is the fact that the Republicans may be on a course of permanent decline.  

President Obama won two-thirds of the youth vote, an achievement mirrored only by Ronald Reagan in 1980.  That election ushered in a period of Republican hegemony.  Likewise 2008 may have been the opening act in what may be a generation of Democratic supremacy.  With the wind behind the Democrats back, libertarians hoping to reshape the GOP into a viable political party face a daunting task.  

Libertarians will also find it difficult to engage some of the Republican’s core constituencies.   The acolytes of neo-conservatism still retain a strong presence in the GOP, despite delivering the United States two expensive, protracted, foreign wars.  Likewise certain social conservatives, still lobbying for intrusive constitutional amendments in order to protect marriage and the unborn, will sit uneasily with a libertarian movement dedicated to states rights and personal freedoms.  Tempers often fray when libertarians point out the ideological inconsistency of those who advocate for federal regulation of a woman’s body while opposing federal regulation of such things as CO2 emissions.  

Yet despite these difficulties, the situation is not beyond rescue.  In fact, a libertarian movement properly disciplined, focused, and motivated would be ideally placed to lead the GOP back from the wilderness.  

Already tea party activists have chosen strong defenders of liberty as their candidates in a string of Republican primaries.  Whatever the outcome of the elections in November – one thing is clear: there will be many more libertarians in next Congress.

The principle reason why the libertarians can and ought to assume the leadership of the GOP is clear – demographics.  Older voters are dying off, replaced by a zealous and youthful electorate enamored by Barack Obama and his leftist friends.  The establishment GOP has utterly failed to connect with these types of voters.  To compound this, socially conservative leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson are either dying or retiring.  In their stead a new generation of religious voters are emerging, who place less emphasis on foreign aggression and homosexual persecution, such as California’s Rick Warren.  

Given such irreversible long term trends, it is likely that a strong libertarian grassroots network could challenge established hierarchies in the GOP and lobby for overdue policy changes.  The swarms of libertarians who descended on the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last February under the banner of the Campaign for Liberty is evidence of the people-power the libertarian movement now commands.

For the libertarians to succeed in reintroducing the nation to the Jeffersonian principles of limited government and personal responsibility, they need a party.  The GOP is that party.  Neo-cons and DC hacks should not be allowed to vandalize the Republican brand any longer.  If the libertarian movement is to thrive over the coming years, it must move beyond its distaste of the GOP and work within its proven party apparatus.  Libertarians should take their lead from Ron Paul, who remains a registered Republican.  If the good doctor from Texas can remain part of the GOP, his supporters ought to follow his lead.  With momentum behind them, the libertarians just might turn out to be the life, soul, and future of the Republican Party.

Dan Whitfield is a writer living in Washington, DC, specializing in the conservative routes of America’s founding.  Previously Dan worked for the Leadership Institute, America’s largest training organization for conservative activists.

The rotting state of the gentleman’s game

Joshua-Bell The ICC's refusal to accept John Howard's nomination as its Vice President raises questions about the integrity of the Council, writes Joshua Bell.

With great dismay, I have been following the debacle surrounding the International Cricket Council’s rejection of former Prime Minister John Howard’s nomination to be its vice-president (and therefore future president).

These events expose a grim reality that has been kept under the radar for some time and, to paraphrase Marcellus’ famous statement in Hamlet, something is rotten in the world of cricket.

Allow me to start by setting the scene.

The ICC is cricket’s premium body, much like FIFA is for football. It organises major international events such as the World Cup, appoints match officials, and co-ordinates anti-corruption and match-fixing efforts.  It is comprised of 104 members, of which only ten are full Test playing nations. These ten are the governing members of the ICC, who decide who will be the ICC president.

These ten nations are divided into regions. The African region is represented by South Africa and Zimbabwe; the Asian region is comprised of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh; Australia and New Zealand are from the East Asia-Pacific region; and Europe and the Americas are respectively represented by England and the West Indies.

My understanding is that protocol dictates that the presidency of the ICC is shared among these regions in a cyclical fashion.  That is, they take turns to nominate the President.  In 2012, the Presidency of the ICC will belong to East Asia-Pacific. John Howard is the nominated candidate. However, he has been rejected by the Afro-Asia voting bloc, which comfortably dominates the ICC.  As Malcolm Conn from The Australian notes, “cricket’s seven Afro-Asian countries…could not even look Howard in the eye” when they refused to permit him to address the ICC board or allow a formal vote on the issue. They simply stonewalled his nomination. 

The question that needs to be asked is why.

Suspiciously, the ICC refuses to disclose its reasons and it seems that even Howard has been kept in the dark.  Nonetheless, insiders point to his strong anti-Mugabe stance and his lack of experience in cricket administration.

It is not difficult to quash these so-called ‘reasons’. 

Zimbabwe has been instrumental in the Afro-Asia bloc’s opposition to Howard’s candidacy. The source of their opposition is clear: while in office he championed strong sanctions against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his cronies.  That is to be expected from Zimbabwe. But since when has taking a strong stand against a dictator who has presided over a murderous regime, rampant political intimidation and rigged elections been a flaw worthy of rejection by cricket’s peak body? One can only be amazed at the hypocrisy of South Africa in supporting this argument, particularly when one remembers that it is led by the African National Congress which 20 years ago relied on economic sanctions in the name of democracy and human rights to help end apartheid. Perhaps solidarity with a fellow African nation, no matter how draconian, is more important than democratic principle?

Furthermore, the rejection of Howard on the basis of being unfamiliar with cricket administration is ludicrous. Howard can point to over eleven years as Prime Minister, having guided a highly prosperous economy, dealt with terrorism, war, the Asian financial crisis, GST, Waterfront and industrial relations reform – to name but a few challenges. No other candidate could come close to those credentials. Running the ICC would be a walk in the park for him. The Afro-Asia bloc also has the nerve to suggest that his political pedigree is an impediment; but, in so doing, they demonstrate their hypocrisy because the current ICC president, Sharad Pawar, is an Indian politician and former Defence Minister. Some even contend that Howard is unqualified because he has not been a cricket player.  I thought he was running for an administrative role, not Cricketer of the Year?

In short, the unofficial ‘reasons’ bandied around do not even require a detailed treatment to expose them as fundamentally flawed. 

Something far more sinister is at play here.

Consider the following facts.

In 2008 former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed was sacked for attempting to expose dubious financial dealings by the Zimbabwean Cricket Board. The report he produced has never been published.

During the 2007/8 summer, umpire Steve Bucknor was sacked by the ICC at the insistence of the Indians for failing to give Andrew Symonds out caught behind. But when Harbhajan Singh was suspended for racially vilifying Symonds, the Indians threatened to withdraw from the series. And the ICC caved in. The double standards are tangible from space. Can you imagine what would have happened if matters had been reversed?

Furthermore, how is it that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe has been able to retain full voting rights and the millions in dividends that it receives by virtue of being a full member – yet the ICC banned apartheid South Africa?

The answer lies in corruption. Not so much in the sense of embezzlement, but in terms of favouritism, and a distinct lack of transparency, openness and accountability. Ironically, those are supposed to be the ICC’s guiding values.

There does not seem to be any other explanation for the facts mentioned and for the ICC’s recent rejection of Howard.

They know he will not tolerate financial mismanagement. He will keep members accountable. He will bring common sense to the role and not allow cricket to become the bastion of political correctness. In other words, he will restore the game’s reputation as a gentleman’s game. Something that the Afro-Asian dominated ICC has only tarnished through its double standards. Indeed, Conn sums these thoughts up when he writes that “a decent, well-run governing body would enthusiastically endorse its chief executive strictly enforcing propriety and good governance. Not the ICC”.

As if to highlight my point, the Indian Cricket authorities have now branded Howard a racist for rightly refusing to withdraw his candidacy. Of course – where logic fails, the race card comes to the rescue. 

The ICC no longer deserves the credibility it receives from Australia, New Zealand or England’s membership. As far as I am concerned, the Afro-Asia bloc can have their ICC until they are prepared to put aside politics and play fair.

In the meantime, may the game return to its traditional home at the MCC and Lord’s.

Joshua Bell is studying Law and International Studies at the University of Adelaide.

Rudd Wants to Turn Australia Into Sweden

A letter from the Wall Street Journal (Asia Edition) on 19 May highlights the risks associated with Rudd's Resources Super-Profit Tax.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's idea of a "super-profits" tax on the mining industry ("What Is a 'Super Profit'?" Review & Outlook, May 10) is a typical stunt he learned when he was a diplomat in Stockholm.

Since 1983, different Swedish governments have put a super-profits tax on hydropower. Before that, it was a cheap and reliable source of electricity for Swedish pulp, paper, steel and mining companies. Much of Swedish hydropower was built over decades by Swedish industrialists to secure energy supply for their manufacturing industry. But after the tax was introduced and raised almost annually, Swedish companies started to sell their heavily taxed hydro-power stations to other investors.

Today most of the formally private-owned hydropower is owned by foreign state-owned power companies as Fortum (Finland) and Statkraft (Norway) and the privately held Eon (Germany). Electricity prices in Sweden are now as high as in Germany.

The same thing happened when Britain's Labour Party introduced a windfall profit tax on utilities. The tax depressed profits and led to an exodus of British institutional investors from the sector. It was then easy for continental corporations like RWE and Eon (Germany), EDF (France) and Inberdrola (Spain) to buy them cheaply. Today almost all the British power companies are owned by foreigners, and the government has to make all kinds of tax concessions and subsidies to get them to invest in new plants in Britain.

For Australia, a super-profits tax on mining would make stocks in the mining companies cheaper as many private investors would sell out because perceived political risk. State-owned Chinese and Indian corporations will then have a great opportunity to acquire a substantial part of Australia's mining industry. In the long term, these countries will then have more clout in dealing with the Australian government than private investors.

Stefan Björklund

Vevey, Switzerland

Original article courtesy of the Wall Street Journal