June 30, 2004 | Graham

John Howard should sue – for all of us!

Should John Howard sue for defamation? I would, that’s if I were John Howard and had seen the site www.johnhowardlies.com. Alternatively, I might go to this site www.afternic.com/rcom.php?ref_id=2987 where I can make an anonymous offer to buy the URL.
On reflection, I’d sue for defamation, and you’d be entitled to ask why? Afterall, aren’t election campaigns always full of mudslinging and as a result, don’t courts take a very generous view of what constitutes defamation? If they didn’t election campaigns could drown under a sea of stopper writs. Probably just as well for the plaintiffs, as these actions are more likely to backfire on the suppressor rather than the aggressor.
In fact, I’d be absolutely shocked if the statement, “John Howard lies” wasn’t absolutely true. Afterall, the man’s human, and don’t we all lie, particularly if we’re in public office? So a defamation action might not even succeed. But that is not the point. It’s not the accusation that has got me angry, it’s the way it is being made.
Normally speaking in an election the people that make the accusations stand behind them.
In this case, when I did a search to find out who was the owner of this site I discovered, after contacting the webhosting company that it is “Anonymous”. Or that is the name Aaron gave to the owner when I rang the offices of Global Netsaver, the company that is listed as the owner, at 12:30 p.m. today on 1300 132 791.
It’s not good for democracy if people can make political accusations without revealing their name. The ’net offers some cloaking devices, like Aaron and Global Netsaver.
So, John Howard would be doing democracy a favour if he applied to a court so he could give all of us access to the names of the principals behind the site, and the only way I know that he could do that is to sue for defamation, in which case he’d have ground to ask a court to require Aaron to cough up the name of his client.
All this could make for some interesting case law. We already know from the Dow Corning case that publication of any web page for the purposes of defamation occurs when it is downloaded onto a computer, but we’re not sure (but I could stand to be corrected here) whether the court would find the ISP or webhost were also publishers.
It’s possible it could be more expensive for Global Netsavers to have done business with “Anonymous” than they might have thought. They wouldn’t be the only ones on the ’net to potentially be in this position. In fact, some people think that they are actually entitled to be anonymous on their websites!
Looks like the web is moving out of its age of political innocence. It’s a pity in one sense, but hopefully it means we’re ready for some more adult, transparent and enlightening eDemocracy.

Posted by Graham at 1:50 pm | Comments (45) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Somehow I would find it ironic if John Howard were to open a civil suit in the name of transparency for Democracy.

    Comment by matt byrne — June 30, 2004 @ 2:33 pm

  2. Graham
    Interesting article. I agree people should have the courage of their convictions.
    What is interesting is that when a person does a whois.com search on who owns the site I found that the contact details have changed since I looked at it earlier.
    Originally the contact details were for a PO Box at Surfers Paradise. Now it has changed to 123 FourFive Street in Surfers Paradise TAS. Even the telephone number has changed to 123456789. All very original. The owner must have got a wiff that people are interested in who owns the site.
    If anybody wants to have a look then go to:
    I think you may be onto something here.

    Comment by Michael J Lee — June 30, 2004 @ 2:33 pm

  3. Michael,
    I just did the search, and you’re right. Unfortunately for them though, you need a valid email address in the system, otherwise the domain registrar can’t contact you and tell you that you need to renew. So, when you type in http://www.netsaver.com.au, using the extension on the valid email address that is still up in the registry you can get the details anyway.
    But why would they change the details?
    No doubt they are arranging a hotmail account as we speak to sort this glitch out. Maybe it is all Global Netsaver’s work afterall, not Anonymous’s?

    Comment by Graham Young — June 30, 2004 @ 2:45 pm

  4. You guys really do need to lighten up (or perhaps get a life?).

    Comment by Ron — July 1, 2004 @ 2:21 pm

  5. Howard sueing somebody for calling him a liar? In the words of Sir Humphrey “A very courageous decision sir”. He’d be the biggest laughing stock this country, if not the world, has ever seen.
    On reflection I now agree with the original poster, it would be a great idea if he did sue. It’s such a great idea I’ll even donate to his fighting fund.

    Comment by Rog Cooper — July 1, 2004 @ 3:06 pm

  6. I think it would be positive for Australia if Howard did sue because then his list of lies would be listed for all to see, not just in this rather innocuous web site.

    Comment by Robin W — July 1, 2004 @ 6:58 pm

  7. Yeah, sure mate – why don’t you finance the case.
    Perhaps you could also help the Pope refute the claims he is a Catholic

    Comment by Don Paullo — July 1, 2004 @ 7:30 pm

  8. Good lord are you saying the PM lies,i,m shocked god knows what will happen if he ever tells the truth

    Comment by john — July 1, 2004 @ 8:41 pm

  9. Hey Don Paullo,
    Or should that be Donpaullo. I sent you a private email, and it didn’t bounce. Means one of two things – either you have an email address at http://www.johnhowardlies.com, or they have a catch-all email address.
    On the off-chance that it’s the first and you have some sort of control over the site, perhap you could tell us who you are.
    Afterall, we all know John Howard, so we can make a judgement about him, but we know nothing about the people behind http://www.johnhowardlies.com so can’t make a judgement about them.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 1, 2004 @ 10:36 pm

  10. I don’t think anyone including Graham is suggesting that having an opinion and putting it up on the web is a problem. The point is that the people don’t appear to have the courage to put their names to it.
    What I can’t understand is why be anonymous about it and even worse change the details of who owns the site with obviously false details.
    Isn’t this a lie in itself and rather hypocritical?

    Comment by Michael J Lee — July 1, 2004 @ 11:38 pm

  11. What is the problem with ‘Liberals’? Taken off the breast too early or potty-trained too late?
    PS It really is time to replace the word Liberal in the party name.

    Comment by Ron — July 2, 2004 @ 6:53 am

  12. Graham,
    It seems to me unfortunate that you felt no need to justify the final clause of your statement “Afterall, the man’s human, and don’t we all lie, particularly if we’re in public office?”
    Do you get this opinion from Machiavelli, something more recent, or perhaps from military strategists? If you think it comes from military strategy then would you explain why you think it applies not to lying to your enemy, but to your own people? I don’t think you’d be able to make that case convincingly and I’d be surprised to hear you admitting to Machiavelli as your inspiration.
    As far as I’m concerned your position needs strong justification. How many lies would be too many? Do you think John Howard lies too easily and too often? How much lying would make him a disgrace to public office? Do you think he’s made it plain to staffers and public servants that he is not to be told the truth about anything where it would not be likely to suit his political purposes (were he later to have to admit to having known the truth)?
    How much lying is acceptable to you “particularly if we’re in public office”? Do you think there is any connection between your fitness for public office and the amount of lying you find necessary for your political purposes?

    Comment by Graeme Greenup — July 2, 2004 @ 12:20 pm

  13. I suspect a bigger issue would be “John Howard tells the truth” on account of it being a) unusual and b) likely to take up less room, so the stoy could be covered more efficiently.
    Telling us he lies is barely a surprise is it?
    Mind you, I for one enjoyed the site!

    Comment by oznlp — July 2, 2004 @ 2:39 pm

  14. Whoever has registered the domain should quickly transfer to an offshore registrar eg. Godaddy. This will prevent the Federal Court forcing the on shore registrar to transfer the domain to any complainant eg. The “Liberal” Party of Australia which the FC has in the past been quite willing to do for “offended” plaintiffs.
    They will be also be able to purchase a private registration and their details will be kept hidden from the prying eyes of the Brownshirts and in doing so they will be able to comply with ICANN’s corrst registrant details requirements.

    Comment by Chris B — July 3, 2004 @ 1:14 pm

  15. And another thing Graham – they didb’t call Howard “Honest John” because he was.

    Comment by Chris B — July 3, 2004 @ 1:19 pm

  16. I’d love it if the Prime Miniature did sue. I’d love to see him squirming in the witness box trying to defend the indefensible. In fact, sue me, johnny, I’d love to cross-examine you myself. I live at Penrith, i’m in the book, you lying, deceitful, unethical, racist, pompous little man!

    Comment by Ben Fulham — July 3, 2004 @ 7:59 pm

  17. Btw, you’re right Chris, the name “Honest John” was bestowed on him ironically by none other than Paul Keating, in the late 70’s after Howard as treasurer promised his “fist full of dollars” tax cuts and did not deliver after the election.
    Just goes to show that “John howard is a liar” is very old news indeed!

    Comment by Ben Fulham — July 3, 2004 @ 8:09 pm

  18. So, have we now got somewhere? Is the author and publisher of http://www.johnhowardlies.com Ben Fulham?
    If it is it took you a while to own up Ben.
    And I’ve checked out the site – if it is you, you have still to acknowledge it on the site.
    You might like to tell us who Ben Fullham is as well, while you’re at it. Are you the same Ben Fulham who’s into honeyeaters? How do you fund your site?

    Comment by Graham Young — July 3, 2004 @ 8:52 pm

  19. These comments are directed towards Graeme Greenup.
    I base my comments about politician’s lying on the pub test. Go into any pub and ask them to name an honest politician. I noticed Ben Fulham in an earlier comment in this thread footnoting Paul Keating as the originator of the nickname – Honest John. I don’t know about that, but Keating exemplifies the tendency of politicians to lie – look at the LAW tax cuts!!!
    As far as the rest of us are concerned, social scientists and our own consciences will tell us we all lie. I knew that before I had ever read Machiavelli!
    I can’t answer the question as to how many lies would be too many. It’s not a question of numbers – it’s a question of quality. One lie of sufficient magnitude could be too many. Ultimately we don’t construct a calculus of lying, we leave the judgement to the political process.
    It’s not an easy call, given that all people lie. As a friend once told me, and it has stuck in my mind ever since – politics is a question of alternatives. Mark Latham lies too, but that doesn’t mean that I think badly of him on this count, or John Howard. If Latham wins the next election, expect anonymous sites about his lying at the one after.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 3, 2004 @ 9:04 pm

  20. Graham,
    If John Howard did decide to sue the case would be kicked out of court.
    The site http://www.johnhowardlies.com contains statements that John Howard has made then followed by statements that another person/group has made that refute the original statement made by John Howard.
    As both the statement made by John Howard and the refuting statement are both in the public domain it is impossible to make a case to sue the creator of the web site for defamation.
    Have you listened to talk back radio ? Callers to the various programmes when “on air” state that “John Howard is a liar”. Are you going to encourage John Howard to sue all of the hosts of these talk back programmes for allowing callers to have said that he is a liar ?

    Comment by S. McDonald — July 3, 2004 @ 10:47 pm

  21. Dear S McDonald,
    Is it too much to expect people to actually read what I wrote? The defamation line was meant to be an entertaining lead-in to suggesting that people who publish sites that are political ought to have the guts to put their name to them.
    It certainly worked in terms of getting attention, and also as a short test of the english comprehension abilities of some of my (and I assume Crikey’s) readers.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 3, 2004 @ 10:59 pm

  22. Graham,
    This isn’t a pub is it? I don’t think we ought to be led by the loudest opinions from our local watering hole(s) to be that cynical about the nature of politics.
    You seem to have answered a question I haven’t asked, because I didn’t quibble with your “We all lie” comment. I asked you to justify your final clause – “particularly if we’re in public office”. Personally I always assume that those in public office are in fact observing higher standards than would the average bar parrot, and that certainly when in their official capacity are being more trustworthy and honest than is the average voter in the street. Naive am I?

    Comment by Graeme Greenup — July 4, 2004 @ 4:06 pm

  23. Yeah, I think you’re being naive. The “pub” test is my equivalent of the “man on the Clapham omnibus” test, or Paul Keating’s “Every pet shop galah” test.
    Things are different in public life to private life. If I say to my girls we’ll go to Dream World next year (and I have) and we don’t (and we didn’t), then no-one would describe me as a “liar”. No-one, apart perhaps from the youngest of my two girls, would even bother to plot it, or hold it against me (and she got over it). But in politics, if you say I’ll do X and you don’t then people say you are a liar. So to start with there is a problem of definition.
    On top of that, the public puts you in an unrealistic contest with someone else. They want you both to tell them what they want to hear, and they don’t have a good track record for rewarding would be MPs or governments who are strictly honest. What do you do? Leave the field to the liars, or exaggerate a little yourself?
    Is it any wonder we breed a political class that is strategically dishonest? I sometimes wonder whether if they ran elections in Heaven they would be much different

    Comment by Graham Young — July 4, 2004 @ 4:50 pm

  24. We don’t vote for “the man on the Clapham omnibus” to lead us, presumably for a reason. His opinions elect, but they shouldn’t lead unless we truly deserve no better than his leadership.
    You’re saying I think that we don’t reward “strictly honest” politicians with enough votes and that therefore we have the politicians we deserve. And that they’re then dishonest by nature and also by our training of them.
    You haven’t been corrupted by (is it) eight years of John Howard’s character defects to have reached this depressing point of view? Did Beazley tell, foolishly do you think, insufficient or insufficiently convincing lies to win the last election, or was it for other failings that he was punished by the electorate?

    Comment by Graeme Greenup — July 4, 2004 @ 5:21 pm

  25. Why does everyone that comments on this article target John Howard as the example of a lying politician? You’ve got Paul Keating and his LAW tax cuts, and Bob Hawke with his “No child will live in poverty” comments. Macolm Fraser and his fistful of dolars campaign etc.
    The public has always been dismissive of politicians as liars.
    As for Beazley, our research, which you can find at http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/onlinefocus/Election2001/default.htm suggested that his problem was that no-one believed his promises on asylum seekers, and this poisoned his credibility on other issues.
    But I don’t think you should read into this a disapproval of people who dissemble. If the public had thought he was dissembling to placate the left but would have delivered as tough a policy as Howard’s despite that then they might have been prepared to back him.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 4, 2004 @ 6:04 pm

  26. Because I and a whole swag of senior and emeritus Liberals agree that Howard has lowered the standard of honesty and integrity in public service to depths never before plumbed, and to which it would be far better for our future had we never fallen.
    And two separate comments:
    Paul Wolfowitz has recently been honest enough to admit that the US lied about its reasons for attacking Iraq, because it thought its primary reasons – along the lines of remodelling the Middle East to better suit the US’ needs – were sufficiently good to justify the misleading of the American public (but not good enough to persuade them). Do you wish John Howard had at least Wolfowitz’s moral fibre, enough for him to admit either to having connived with the US or to having been duped by it? Isn’t it clear that it’s one or the other, and clear that Howard is too dishonest and too contemptuous of what he really sees as the ignorance of the Australian public for him to partly tell the truth like Wolfowitz has?
    Secondly, quoting myself: “Do you think he’s made it plain to staffers and public servants that he is not to be told the truth about anything where it would not be likely to suit his political purposes (were he later to have to admit to having known the truth)?” Would this if true represent dishonesty of heroic proportions and a novel degree of corruption of our body politic?
    OK a third, sorry, again from before “Do you think there is any connection between your fitness for public office and the amount of lying you find necessary for your political purposes?” That is, would it be plausible that the more unfit for office you might be and the more incompetent in it, the more you might find yourself lying about stuff?

    Comment by Graeme Greenup — July 4, 2004 @ 7:10 pm

  27. Ah, could have added the missing ‘?’ or “()”s or “it seems” – I’m really only speaking for myself of course.

    Comment by Graeme Greenup — July 4, 2004 @ 8:18 pm

  28. Graham Young,
    Why is it so important to you to know the identity of the people putting together the web site http://www.johnhowardlies.com?
    What do you propose to do with identities if you knew them?

    Comment by S. McDonald — July 4, 2004 @ 8:24 pm

  29. Read my post more carefully Graham Y, and you’ll see I’m not claiming responsibility for johnhowardlies.com . I was referring to the comments I made on your forum calling him “lying, deceiptful, racist…”, for which I throw down the gauntlet. As to the site I am neither confirming or denying any involvement.
    Btw, regarding the LAW law tax cuts, its true that Keating never delivered as promised; he provided the first half as super benefits and delayed the implementation of the second tranche to after the 1996 election. Its also true that both Howard and Keating went to the 1996 election promising to introduce the LAW law tax cuts in that term. Howard won the election and reneged on the promise. So if you’re putting it up as a lie for Keating its also a lie for Howard!
    I think a distinction should also be made between breaking a promise about a future event (which you might still think is reprehensible but pretty standard for most politicians and one could argue changed circumstances, etc) and telling a lie about a past one. In terms of telling lies about past events I can’t think of any Australian pollie in the same class as Howard, you’d have to look at Nixon as the obvious comparison.

    Comment by Ben Fulham — July 5, 2004 @ 12:30 pm

  30. Pleeeeeaaaase, preeeeetty pleeeeaaaaase! SUE!
    you should see the rumours already going around…
    Watch those stickers going up in all the marginal electorates… hehe
    Do you know what happens to liers?
    They get a big KICK UP THEIR LYING ARSE!

    Comment by JohnyOUT2004! — July 5, 2004 @ 4:37 pm

  31. Ben,
    When did Howard promise to deliver Keating’s tax cuts? And Keating didn’t defer them, he reneged on them.
    I’m also not quite sure what you mean about telling lies about a past event. Keating (again) used to spin outrageously about Australian history.
    I’ve also tracked down a number of what you would call Labor “lies” from the 80s. For example Bob Hawke in 1983 said there would be no capital gains tax and Paul Keating in 1985 introduced one. In 1983 Hawke promised no increase in the lump sum superannuation tax, and later that year increased it up to 6 fold. In 1987 Bob Hawke promised to deliver “genuine reductions in taxation” then in 1988 introduced a gold tax and also increased indirect taxes on a range of goods.
    Need I go on. They all promise things they can’t deliver. Only the one-eyed zealots think that any one party has a monopoly on lying or over-promising.

    Comment by Graham Young — July 7, 2004 @ 6:55 pm

  32. All the lies are already on the public record, either from media reports or taken from Hansard. The fact that the website john howardlies.com doesn’t have a figure head doesn’t change the fact that all those lies have been told. It’s not just Labour voters who are sick of the lies either. Of course if John Howard did choose to take it to court that would publicise just howmuch of a Pinnochio PM he really is. I don’t think the PM will sue. He’s not intersted in the truth getting out, mearely getting reelected.

    Comment by md — July 13, 2004 @ 1:25 am

  33. Graham,
    Interesting article, however the arguement seems somewhat loose and the analogies that follow are virtually irrelevant.
    You claim that the article was meant to focus our attention to the few who anonymously publish political sites. Highlighting their lack of intestinal fortitude.
    With a little more research you would, perhaps, have found the following URL. I suggest you do a whois on it too! http://marklathamsucks.com/
    Mr Howard is not the only poltician being defamed, obviously. In fact this site is far more nefarious in so far as it actually solicites people to tell us how Mr Latham sucks. Personal and unfounded opinion (Latham site) vs public domain fact (Howard site).
    How you can compare not going to Dream World with the leader of this nation lying to the nation to gain political advantage is beyond believe.
    I expect to see a similar article imploring Mr Latham to sue the relevant people too.

    Comment by Scott Moody — July 14, 2004 @ 10:43 pm

  34. BEN,
    “In terms of telling lies about past events I can’t think of any Australian pollie in the same class as Howard, you’d have to look at Nixon as the obvious comparison”.
    Ben, your comment is on the money.
    The public perception of the Howard Government is it has become the most secretive, unaccountable, dishonest, diversive and tainted Government in modern Austrailan political history. It parallels the similar bent political ilk of the former US Nixon Administration of the early 1970’s. Is there no end to Howards style of shoddy politics?
    Even today with the weight of evidence (US Senate Commitee Report)discrediting Howard’s twisted version of the events, he still repeats his assertions that there are WMDs. This is utter nonsense. He’s either incompetent or a downright liar. He believes his own lies. Is there no end to his repeated lies? What about accountability over his illegal and unforgivable actions?
    Worse still, how do you ask a soldier to go to war to die for a lie?
    (disgusted & angry)

    Comment by Kevin Hoffman — July 16, 2004 @ 11:19 am

  35. Everybody knows that Howard is liar. Let hope at
    the next election, this deceitful little man
    will be relegated to the dust bin of political history.

    Comment by geoffm — July 17, 2004 @ 4:07 am

  36. When all is said and done you got to take your hat off to smart little Johnny. You think telling lies was bad. How can this little man not only tell so many lies but be linked to so many innocent lives lost and still be in power? The man is out of control and we are letting it happen. You got to give it to him.

    Comment by ROBERT — July 19, 2004 @ 6:35 pm

  37. Graham,
    Have just returned from overseas to read your post of July 7 and must
    In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed zealot is indeed king.
    You ask “when did Howard promise to deliver Keating’s tax cuts?” and
    state “Keating didn’t defer them, he reneged on them”
    I shouldn’t have to do the research for you as you’re the one who raised
    the whole L-A-W issue, but here’s some pointers if you wish to better
    inform yourself:
    Keating promised in the budget delivered in 1995 that the L-A-W tax cuts
    would be delivered into superannuation in the next term of Government.
    So he certainly claimed he was defering them and delivering them as a
    Government co-contribution to people’s super (check the Parliamentary
    records and press clippings of the time if you really want). Costello
    and Howard matched this promise during the 1996 election campaign (again
    recorded in Sydney Morning Herald and other papers in lead up to March
    1996). Of course, Keating did not win that election so we don’t know
    whether he would have kept that promise…
    In Costello’s 1996 budget speech, he said “in 1992 the previous
    Government legislated tax cuts into L.A.W which have never been paid. In
    last year’s Budget it was claimed they would be paid into superannuation
    between 1998 and 2000 for employees paying 1 to 3 per cent of their take
    home pay into superannuation. Our Government will encourage employees to
    make these superannuation contributions from their take home pay and has
    made provision in the forward estimates for the co-contribution. But the
    Government will review the mechanism for the delivery of the L.A.W tax
    cuts to ensure they are paid in an equitable and effective way.”
    So Costello announced he would “review” the promise he and Howard had
    made during the campaign rather than deliver it. He tried to disown it
    as a Keating promise but he had matched that promise only a few month
    earlier from opposition. In the following budget delivered in 1997,
    Costello announced that this super annuation co-contribution would also
    not be delivered as promised, justifying it by saying it was “replaced”
    with a 15% tax rebate on superanuation savings.
    This is all ancient history but I raise it simply to balance the Howard
    myth-making on this issue. My motive was not at all to defend Keating,
    but to point out that if you regard Keating as reneging (which is a
    perfectly valid interpretation), then you must also see Howard /
    Costello in the same light.
    You are quite right that no party has a monopoly on broken promises. My
    point was that broken promises (which are only lies if they were
    intending to be broken at the time the promise is made) is in a
    different category to lying. Raising Keating’s “spin” on Australian
    history is a red herring. All historians impart spin to some degree. I
    was talking about the Government’s informing or misinforming of the
    Australian public about the Government’s behaviour, not their spin on
    historical events.
    It is only John Howard’s Government who has lied so outrageously and
    frequently about events involving his Government.
    As to the question of defamation, surely it should be the parents
    accused of blatent neglect of their children’s safety by throwing them
    overboard who should sue John Howard!

    Comment by Ben Fulham — September 7, 2004 @ 10:05 pm

  38. If there were an award for one-eyed zealotry you’d have to be a gold medal
    contender on the basis of this email. Keating must have known he couldn’t
    have delivered that tax cut because economic circumstances didn’t change
    after that election. As he was the government he would have known exactly
    the capacity of the budget to deliver, and as he did not deliver on the
    balance of probabilities he knew he could never deliver. So, there is
    intention and he did lie. You can’t disprove that by saying that the other
    side lied. And you certainly can’t say the other side are worse liars
    simply by asserting it.
    If you read my post without preconceptions you will know that I believe that
    Howard lies. You will also know that the defamation line was a hook and
    that I also say that he would not win a defamation action. I wouldn’t have
    thought the parents had much of a case. Sabotaging a boat and the children
    ending up in the water is not much different from throwing them overboard.

    Comment by Graham Young — September 7, 2004 @ 10:23 pm

  39. Talking about proof, where is your proof that any parents on that boat
    sabotaged it or that it was sabotaged at all? You are trying to defend
    one defamation by defaming them further!
    To me, a broken promise is still generally in a different category to a
    lie, although I admit there are cases which blur that distinction.
    Further, I believe the areas where Howard has lied go to more
    fundamental issues of human rights and national security, which I give a
    higher priority to than tax.

    Comment by Ben Fulham — September 9, 2004 @ 5:27 pm

  40. Give it a break Ben. The ship was scuttled. It doesn’t really matter who did it, the point was to force the navy to rescue the asylum seekers instead of escorting them to somewhere else. What’s the difference between doing it yourself as a parent, or hopping on a ship knowing that it is highly likely to happen?

    Comment by Graham Young — September 14, 2004 @ 8:45 am

  41. Naval investigations showed a number of possible explanations as to why the vessel sank apart from sabotage. It was noted that the vessel was “unsafe for sea and would have failed any mariner safety compliance inspection.” It was also “significantly overcrowded” and this resulted in creating an unnatural momentum of the boat’s movement and instability. This resulted in the swamping of the decks which was contributed to the sinking. Debris and luggage inside the hull may have punched through the hull.
    There is a big difference in between taking a risk in getting on the boat (presumably they were not suicidal and did not think they were highly likely to die when they did so) and the false claim that they deliberately blackmailed the government with their children’s lives.
    Further, logically, if you think the parents’ behaviour despicable you must also think Howard despicable for ordering the Navy not to rescue anybody until they were in the water, risking the lives of not only the parents, children but the Australian naval personnel.
    This is all conveniently diverting, Graham, but the main point is that the Howard Government blatantly lied, and doctored and covered up evidence to support their lie. Are you seriously complacent about this state of affairs?
    For this alone, Howard should be kicked out of office or we should not bother having any moral or ethical standards in Government at all.
    If as you say, all Governments lie to this extent, then we should keep kicking them out until someone gets the message that if they want to last longer than a term they better set some standards of decency and adhere to them.

    Comment by Ben Fulham — September 15, 2004 @ 11:16 pm

  42. Ben,
    Have you ever admitted you were wrong? I could add any number of possible reasons why the boat sank – maybe it hit a whale? None of your reasons sound any more plausible than that given that the sea was from what I could see, fairly calm. But you obviously have a limited experience of the sea and ships. Maybe you could provide me with a reference to where I can find these naval reports, and that might make the argument easier.
    By the way, your argument about Howard being “despicable” because he ordered the navy not to rescue anyone founders on two premises. Firstly, they didn’t need rescuing until they were in the water. Secondly, they were blackmailing the government by using ships which they then threatened to, and then did, sink. Rescuing them prematurely would only reward that behaviour, and rescuing them after they were in the water wouldn’t have significantly increase their risk.
    I think that the Howard government inadvertently misled in the first place. The issue was not a major one. They may or may not have deliberately misled since. In terms of the sins that a government can commit it is not a major one. Much more serious for me was their behaviour over the Tampa where the lives of innocent people – the crew of the ship – were put at risk; the complete waste of resources on the Pacific Solution; and the attempts to separate asylum seekers from due legal process.
    But these things aren’t lies, or inadvertent misstatements they are definite positive acts. Actions are much more significant than occassional untruths. Only the acitivists and the obsessed get upset about the untruths, and then generally because it allows them to avoid examining consequences and outcomes, which is what you appear to be trying to do.

    Comment by Graham Young — September 16, 2004 @ 12:16 am

  43. I know enough about the sea to know its an unpredictable beast and should not be taken for granted. However my comments are not based on my own marine expertise but on the comments and reports of those who were there including the naval personnel who do know a bit, I’m sure you would agree.
    The naval personnel certainly did consider it riskier waiting for people to actually be in the sea once the boat had started sinking, and wanted to rescue then directly from the sinking boat (how this would have rewarded them I can’t guess). They were prevented from doing so by Canberra who insisted that the people be in the sea before being rescued. This has been widely reported.
    It was also reported on Channel Nine’s Sunday program (considered by most a fairly authoritative source) a few weeks ago that naval personnel defied this Government order and did in fact rescue some women and children directly from the boat – although they have kept quiet about this for obvious reasons.
    The clearest evidence the Government lied rather than told an inadvertant truth is this (perhaps this passed you by as well):
    The Office of the Department of Defence (Peter Reith’s office at the time) received a set of photos from the armed services which clearly showed the sequence of events of a boat sinking and people in the water as a result. The photos were date and time stamped to the second. Anyone looking at this set of photos would be in no doubt what they showed. The Office then released a misrepresentative selection of these photos with date and time information removed, claiming they were evidence of an event on a different date to that they were stamped of parents throwing their children in the water (which we now know never happened). The Government has never given the slightest explanation as to how this could have happened “inadvertently” (I await your creative explanation) and have never asked the person or persons involved at the Office of Department of Defence for an explanation. Nobody within the office was ever dismissed or even mildly rebuked for this gross act of deception.
    Bottom line: the Government has not even tried to claim the misrepresentation of photos was inadvertant, yet they have refused to take any action against the people involved. Surprising considering at least one person at the Minister’s Office deliberately misled the Prime Minister, the Minister and the entire nation.
    A reasonable conclusion from the above is that nobody was punished because the Government including Howard and/or Reith knew it was a fiction either before the photos were released or shortly afterwards.
    I’ve admitted being wrong more often than Howard, but all I’ve said here are merely statements of fact and logical conclusions from those facts.

    Comment by Ben Fulham — September 16, 2004 @ 10:55 am

  44. Ben,
    Your comments border on the dishonesty that you accuse others of. I said that the government initially misled accidentally, and then left it open whether they subsequently did so deliberately. You misrepresent what I say, but that doesn’t seem to worry you.
    There is no doubt in my mind that Peter Reith knew before the date of the election that the children had not been thrown overboard, and I knew of the clipping of the photos which is one reason I think Reith knew. But Peter Reith knowing and the government knowing are two separate issues.
    BTW, when I first saw the photos it looked to me as though they were taken after the ship sank, without worrying about any date stamps. I’m surprised no journalists asked at the time. Maybe they didn’t because it wasn’t a big issue at the time.
    You obviously have no experience of the sea or you would not assert that naval personnel would be at less risk rescuing people from the sinking boat rather than after they had jumped into the sea. One of the instructions my dad always gave me when we went to sea was that if the ship ever started to sink I was to get off and swim as far away as I could. Sinking ships create a vortex which sucks things close to them in the water down with them, which includes dinghies trying to pull people off.
    As I’ve asked you before, perhaps you could provide references from the documents you claim to be quoting from, or at the very least links. In the absence of them, and given your tendency to misquote me even when my words are in the same stream of comments, I won’t put much weight on what you allege.

    Comment by Graham Young — September 16, 2004 @ 9:08 pm

  45. John howard is a lying manipulative peece of shjit yeah. yall are ignant if u dont C this. down with howard and his evil empire. fuk yall

    Comment by stupid — October 8, 2004 @ 6:43 pm

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