December 21, 2004 | Graham

Howard’s parachute for Springborg

Still waiting to see whether Lawrence Springborg is prepared to discuss alternative futures to marrying his estranged Liberal Party “sweetheart”, but in the meantime her oldest living relic – John Howard – has bought into the fray again.
In an article by Dennis Atkins in yesterday’s Courier Mail Howard both rules out and rules in a merger between the Liberal and National Parties. The headline says “Howard buries merger hopes”, yet the second par says “But if the Nationals wanted to talk about a merger federally, Mr Howard would be happy to discuss it.”
Acute readers will understand that what Howard is doing is simultaneously trying to look reasonable, say “No”, as well as giving Springborg a parachute, or “exit strategy”. He’s sending Springborg off to the maiden aunt at federal National Party HQ to discuss it. We know what the answer will be – it’s a way of letting him down gently and saving his face.
Howard needs to be more blunt when talking to those of us north of the Tweed.
Apparently the amalgamation proponents are either not acute, or still think the bride will find their shotgun irresistible. Latest rumours are that the Nationals are going for a long hot and passionate summer trying to strong-arm their intended into submission. Local Liberals expect the CM to play along.
Not that rumours are always true. Steve Austin put my gossip from Los Trios Amigos to each of the three – Santoro, Caltabiano and Nicholls – and they all denied it. State Liberal Leader Bob Quinn is copying the Howard style and was apparently hopeful – he’d be happy to enhance the talents of his parliamentary line-up.
While on the subject of rumours, critics of the Courier Mail say that they are looking to match their format with their content. Yes, they could be the next of the Murdoch publications to shrink from a broadsheet to a tabloid. Good idea I would think. My favourite Australian newspaper, the Fin Review, has always been a tabloid and generally manages more news on the front page than many broadsheets do in their entire front section! What’s more you can read it anywhere without having to continually karate chop it on the fold to make it manageable and stop it from flopping over like a Labrador’s ear when you try to read it.

Posted by Graham at 12:31 pm | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. The Fin review is probably the best paper available in Queensland, if not the country. And thats coming from a somewhat conservative left winger 🙂
    The shame is the lack of queensland or brisbane based papers. While the Queensland Independent may be graining ground its got a long way to go. And our courier mail seems to be obsessed with Leftie bashing and stories of Christian Persecution Complex syndrome are cropping up everywhere.

    Comment by alphacoward — December 22, 2004 @ 9:44 am

  2. I think Christians have got some grounds for feeling persecuted. There is a very aggressive secularist push around that seems to think that freedom of thought doesn’t encompass freedom of religious belief. I find this interesting, particularly as the original free speech push in the west was a product of the reformation as protestants wanted to speak out in favour of their opinion and against the Pope’s.

    Comment by Graham Young — December 22, 2004 @ 5:56 pm

  3. I remember during year 10 english, there was an intelligent member of the class outlining his case against Political Correctness. It was the early 1990s (perhaps some would say the peak of the PC years) and i watch as the teacher first encounted, then slightly resisted, and finally allowed the student to articulate his developing train of thoughts to the class. Of course defining oneself as anti PC could be considered teenage rebellion, but unlike many heartless soles, he justified his argument pointedly by showing clearly what parts of PC just plain stink.
    It has been argued to death that the concepts of Free Speach and PC are orthaganol or non complementary. Especially the extreme forms of PC such as censorship of traditional community ceremony (christmas in sydney), tradition, thoughts or media. But instead of looking at where the two concepts cancel each other out, lets instead look at where they complement each. I believe the best example of this is the respectful use of language. This is the place where we don’t resort to derogatory, discriminatory casts and generalisations.
    Imagine the 2 dimensional plane that is PC x Freedom of Speech. There are so many bad places on that map that we don’t want society, and especially our legal system, to be. But there are also so many green zones, places that represent optimal social cohesion and good will. Our laws need to enshrine and bring about a shift into these areas, especially by targeted reform of defamation law and the resulting issue / conflict resolution process that occurs in our legal system. Take for instance the recent case of the australian christrian priests convicted of “vilifying” the muslim faith. Take for instance the forthcoming case of Gunns prosecuting the Wilderness Society for saying bad things about the horrific rort that is the tasmanian timber industry. Both represent actions at restricting free-speech and both are clearly in the Red Area of the 2 Dimensional plane.
    The path of Political Correctness, from its peak, shortly to its depths, and hopefully, one day in the future, an optimal balance. Much should have been learnt from lessons made, but we must not give up the fundamental respect that all humans deserve.

    Comment by alphacoward — December 23, 2004 @ 12:15 am

  4. I think “Political Correctness” is neve really about being respectful of others’ beliefs. It is a strategy by which a particular ideological view of the world tries to make its view the only morally acceptable one.
    The Christian Church in the Middle Ages enforced a form of political correctness that burnt the heterodox at the stake from time to time.

    Comment by Graham Young — December 27, 2004 @ 3:32 pm

  5. Can I just point out that the term “political correctness” was, it is my understanding, invented by some think-tank to render some groups entrance into the bastions of power illegitimate. It is a deeply loaded term, and a much over-used one.
    Of course, left-wing “political correctness” can be horrible and prescriptive, but it should be pointed out that it exists on both sides of the political fence.
    Best wishes for the New Year, one and all.

    Comment by Darlene Taylor — December 31, 2004 @ 8:54 am

  6. Hi Darlene,
    I’m interested in the origin of the term “political correctness”. Not sure what think tank you are crediting it with, but my research says it was first used by the US Supreme Court in 1793 in Chisholm v. Georgia.
    “The states, rather than the People, for whose sakes the States exist, are frequently the objects which attract and arrest our principal attention […]. Sentiments and expressions of this inaccurate kind prevail in our common, even in our convivial, language. Is a toast asked? ‘The United States,’ instead of the ‘People of the United States,’ is the toast given. This is not politically correct.”
    Happy New Year!

    Comment by Graham Young — December 31, 2004 @ 9:54 am

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