Friday, November 14, 2014

Shirt Fronts and Coat Tails

Not being terribly familiar with Australian Rules Football, when I first heard Mr Abbott say that he intended to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin, I had a slightly different image come to mind.

The picture that I saw was of an aggressor taking hold of his target’s “shirtfront”, possibly with both hands, drawing him in close and delivering a stern talking to. It’s a common enough standover tactic, and works to intimidate an individual with the implied threat of violence, without having to actually be violent.

As I soon discovered however, the phrase has long been used in the AFL to describe a physical clash which can be both reckless and dangerous. Given the fallout from Mr Abbott’s utterance, perhaps this is the more accurate definition after all.

Nevertheless, even the most ardent critic of Mr Abbott must surely realise that he was not speaking literally, but metaphorically. In effect, Mr Abbott was saying that he intended to demand Mr Putin’s attention, whether Putin wanted to give it or not, for long enough to express his extreme displeasure with the state of affairs.

It should not have been a surprise to anyone that Mr Abbott would use a sporting metaphor, given his athletic proclivities. In any case, he is far from being alone in employing such figures of speech. Indeed, sporting metaphors are to be found throughout not only politics, but also the corporate world.

There is constant talk of “crash tackling” an opponent, “destroying” a competitor, “blowing out of the water” rival companies, and so on, and so on, and so on. It’s a manner of speaking so commonplace that it usually passes without comment.

But not in Tony Abbott’s case.

Of course, the almost universal condemnation of Mr Abbott’s choice of metaphor portrayed a picture of a man who opens his mouth only to jam both his feet into it. The more extreme critics suggested that he is not fit to be in politics, let alone run the country.

The worst of them carried on as if the metaphor was intended literally, and gave the appearance of salivating over the prospect of the volunteer life saver going 12 rounds with the KGB hard-man.

Then, when Abbott and Putin finally had fifteen minutes together on the sidelines at APEC this week, it was widely reported that the “shirtfront” had failed to materialise.

But it’s time for the armchair critics and the professional commentariat to get a grip. There was never going to be a bout of jelly wrestling for the photographers; the metaphorical shirtfront was always going to be a personally delivered verbal message.

And that’s exactly what took place.

I’m quite certain that Vladamir Putin doesn’t often have the leaders of smaller countries coming up to him to personally demand an apology, request compensation and offer advice on how to run Russia. That’s just not something that would happen everyday... or even, let’s see, ever.

I’m sure that Putin is much more accustomed to people snapping to attention and carrying out his every order as if their lives depend on it. Because, most likely, they do.

But instead of being able to carelessly bat Mr Abbott’s concerns aside, Mr Putin had to listen to an Antipodean upstart lecturing him about not seeking to reinstate the past glories of the Soviet Union, or for that matter the Tsars of the old Russian Empire.

I hope it pissed him off.

I am equally certain that Tony Abbott knows full well that Vladimir Putin is highly unlikely to take his advice, or to give the requested apology. I suspect that Mr Abbott believed that he had an obligation to speak for the dead of MH17, as well as for the living breathing Australians who want to see Putin held to account for his actions.

Obviously, Mr Putin did not pull the trigger himself, and the MH17 disaster was an unintended consequence of his regional politics. But he is clearly in a position to provide much greater assistance to the investigators of this terrible crime. His only problem is that any transparency might reveal too much about his role in propelling the rebellion in the Eastern Ukraine.

So far, it looks like Tony Abbott is the only one prepared to grab Putin by the lapels, metaphorically of course, and give him a few choice words. At least the only one prepared to do it in public.

And then there has been the wild hysteria about the Russian “fleet” steaming “towards Australia.” Television reports in particular were lurid in their assessment of what it all meant, speaking of “elevated tensions.”

So what if a handful of Russian Navy vessels are steaming along our east coast? So long as they stay in international waters there is no problem. They are only there, coinciding with the G20 meeting in Brisbane, in an attempt to remind the world that Russia is a powerful nation. It’s a bit like the village hoon doing blockies in his Monaro, showing off to the locals.

So long as he keeps to the speed limit, nobody will get hurt...

Anybody suggesting that the Russian navy flotilla represents some kind of threat is hyperventilating. And to claim that it is a direct response to the “shirtfront” remark is myopic and moronic.

Sure, Putin and his navy want to remind us that they are tough guys. But the message is not for us alone; it is a message for the whole world. And it is also a message for Putin’s constituents in Russia, where his “strongman” image has made him remarkably popular.

It’s nothing more than the schoolyard bully parading around to remind everybody not to mess with him.

While others might lower their eyes, Tony Abbott has instead gone up to the bully, tugged on his coat tails, and said, “You’re not fooling us.”

There’s a lot about Tony Abbott’s government that I find disappointing, and many of his policies with which I disagree. I even agree that the “shirtfront” comment was ill-considered, and the way it was delivered was awkward and embarrassing.

But I’m glad he told Putin what he thought of him. It was the Australian thing to do.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interstellar Review

***No Spoilers***

It is not unusual for a masterpiece to have its flaws. In fact, some would say it comes with the territory. So it’s not a surprise that the science depicted in the new Chris Nolan film “Interstellar” has been subjected to a little criticism from those who know about such things, despite having the benefit of the advice of one of the most respected physicists on the planet.

Apparently, according to some experts, it would not be possible for any planet to orbit a black hole as closely as the film suggests without being ripped to pieces by the gravity. A spacecraft could not approach the superheated accretion disc without being vaporised. And so on.

But does any of that really matter? After all, most of the science in Interstellar is actually pretty good; dare I say it: light years ahead of most science fiction movies. And I’m not a scientist anyway, and I suspect, neither are you or most of the rest of the audience. I just want to see a good story that gives great entertainment, and maybe something to think about as well.

On that score, there’s plenty to chew on in Interstellar.

If you’re expecting a space opera, or an action flick, this is not the film for you. It takes all of the first act (about 45 minutes, because it’s a LONG movie) before the action even gets off the ground. Instead, the opening act establishes Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) as a former NASA test pilot who is now a farmer in a post disaster world where food is in short supply and farmers are sorely needed.

Director Nolan lingers on this opening act to ram home the message of environmental destruction, but more importantly for this story, the bond Cooper has with the two children he is raising as a single father. The younger child, his daughter Murphy, is especially close to her father and it is this relationship which ultimately becomes the central theme of the film, as well as a pivotal part of the plot structure.

Given the importance of this relationship, it is understandable that Nolan has put so much effort into portraying the emotions involved, especially when Cooper must choose between staying with his family, or leaving them behind to pilot NASA’s last spaceship on a mission that could save all humanity.

When Cooper is reunited with a former colleague, Professor Brand (Michael Caine), he learns that a wormhole was discovered decades previously near the orbit of Saturn. (A wormhole, which is a genuine feature of physics as we understand it, links otherwise distant points in space and time.) In this case, it apparently leads to another galaxy where there may be a planet suitable for mankind to colonise, abandoning the ravaged Earth. Brand insists that Cooper should lead the mission to find a new home for all mankind.

The catch, of course, is that Cooper has no idea of when or if he can ever return.

This emotional tug of war between Cooper’s desire to fly the mission he was born to lead, and his love for his children, is not just a plot point; it is actually integral to the whole story, and leads to the events of the final act, which I will not reveal here.

Even so, the film suffers from what appears at first to be an unnecessarily heavy hand pushing the emotional point home over and over again. To some extent, the payoff at the end helps to explain this aspect of the narrative, but it takes a long time to get there.

Along the way, the film also bogs down in presenting some fairly clumsy philosophical ideas, to the point of becoming a little ponderous and self important.  That sensation is not helped by the imposing music score, which for much of the film is magnificent, but far too often intrusive to the point that you cannot hear the dialog. Maybe that was deliberate, so that the audience doesn’t receive all the exposition too quickly, but it becomes distracting and annoying at times.

It also doesn’t help that McConaughey spends the entire film mumbling throughout what is otherwise a great performance.

The bizarre robot which accompanies Cooper and his crew into space also takes a little getting used to. It is like nothing seen on film before, as far as I know, and doesn’t seem to me to be entirely consistent with the rest of the technology in the film. The machine moves around with a strange walking motion, and appears to do so even in the weightlessness of space, which didn’t look right to me. Nevertheless, the cheerful demeanour of the Artificial Intelligences (yes there’s more than one of them) in this film make an interesting contrast to the meltdown of the HAL 9000 computer in the Stanley Kubrick classic “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The music and the visual effects are deliberately evocative of “2001,” which in many ways is a nice touch. It’s no secret that Nolan was tremendously influenced by Kubrick’s film, and if you are looking for inspiration, you might as well look to the best. Inevitably, comparisons have been made, and for the most part it’s a fair call to suggest that Interstellar may be the best space movie since “2001.”

But Kubrick remains on his pedestal.

Interstellar keeps the story moving forward with some clever plot turns, and an un-advertised appearance by another major star, but is hampered by some sequences which slow the pace too much, prompting the viewer to question whether 169 minutes are really necessary to tell the tale.

The final act has caused some controversy, with some critics appearing to dislike the ending. Without disclosing details, I actually didn’t mind the ending. I feel that the most important loose ends were tied up, and while it might be all just a little bit too neat, let’s remember we are talking about a Hollywood movie, and the vast bulk of audiences like to leave the cinema with a sense of completion.

Besides, as I suggested before, the events of the final act help to explain the mysteries of the first, such as how and why the wormhole appeared in the first place.

Interstellar is a flawed masterpiece, great at moments, frustrating at others, but ultimately it’s worth the trip. Perhaps it doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but given the expectations which preceded its release, that would have been a very tall order.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Last Drinks At The Empty Arms

So it’s the end of the age of entitlement... unless you’re a politician. While the Federal Government has revealed the details of its enhanced “work for the dole” arrangements, politicians are still claiming tens of thousands of dollars for study tours, book collections, and travel to sporting events.

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Peter Slipper, who has today been found guilty of acting dishonestly over those cab charge vouchers he used to visit the wineries around Canberra in 2010. Mr Slipper will be sentenced in September, but in the meantime, there will be no action taken against all those senior Liberals who pinged the tax-payer for the cost of attending a wedding... Oh, but they paid it back so it’s all good.

It seems you can be forgiven your mistakes if you haven’t abandoned your own party.

It’s a little more difficult to work out just what unemployed people have done to upset the government. But it must have been sensational given the arrangements that have been wheeled out in the name of welfare “reform.”

We already know that unemployed people under the age of 30 will be expected to survive for six months from the time they apply for assistance before they receive any money at all. There will be reductions on that waiting period based on the length of time someone has been employed prior to the application.

So someone who has had a job for 5 years, and is then made redundant, will receive a 5 month remission, and be entitled to receive assistance after just one month.

But people generally don’t choose when they will become unemployed. If only I can last until the end of the year, I’ll get my dole money a month earlier....

However, the strangest element of the new arrangements, set to commence from the 1st of July next year, is the new improved version of mutual obligation.

Now, in principle, I can understand the argument in favour of mutual obligation. It only stands to reason that if the taxpayer is providing support to the unemployed, the unemployed might be obliged to do something in return. It seems not only sensible, it seems fair.

But the scheme outlined by the Government today is counterproductive, short-sighted, and driven by blind ideology. The people who designed it are safely ensconced within their own cocoon of entitlement, and have little understanding of the experience of the unemployed.

Astoundingly, the strictures of “mutual obligation” will apply to those people who have committed the crime of being under 30 and have been punished by having any payment withheld for six months.

Yes, that’s correct. As incredible as it seems, mutual obligation means that people receiving NO MONEY AT ALL for up to six months will be expected to jump through all the hoops anyway. There’s absolutely nothing “mutual” about that at all.

And even when your six months of fiscal imprisonment have been served, during which time you might well have turned to crime just to make ends meet, the rigors of mutual obligation are still designed to do you more harm than good.

Under the new regime of mutual obligation, unemployed people under 30 will be required to perform 25 hours per week community work and to prove that they have applied for a minimum of 40 jobs per month.

For sake of argument, let’s say there are four weeks in a month; that’s ten job applications per week, or two every working day. Now, if you live in a major city, you might be able to find 40 jobs a month  for which your qualifications are appropriate. But in regional towns? That’s a sick joke.

It was a long time ago, but I was unemployed in a country town in 1981. For 16 months, I filled out forms and attended job interviews. In that time, I spent a few weeks loading trucks and trains, and another week digging a trench. Thankfully, I was able to do some casual work on my uncle’s farm, which was a big help at the time.

Quite literally, I wasn’t qualified for anything else, except broadcasting... and getting back into the radio industry was not exactly easy.

After 26 rejection letters, I was finally offered a position doing the job I was actually trained for, and life was good again. But the point is that during those 16 months, there was no way I could have applied for 640 jobs. They simply didn’t exist.

Or perhaps I’m mistaken. Perhaps the Government expects people to apply for every advertised position, regardless of their qualifications, wasting the time of all those recruitment officers who will have to wade through pointless CVs from desperate but inappropriate applicants.

I know that sounds crazy, but it’s not as crazy as the other problem.

As I said, I get it that mutual obligation is supposed to provide the job-seeker with a sense of doing something in return for the money. Ideally, it should also provide them with useful experience, possibly some rudimentary training, and even just the opportunity  to interact with other people in a professional manner.

All of that is a worthwhile exercise.

However, requiring young people to report for duty for 25 hours a week is not only impractical, it’s downright exploitative. For starters, 25 hours is two thirds of the working week. It adds up to three-and-a-bit days. Surely the obvious question has to be: just when do you find the time to actually apply for those 40 jobs?

It’s not just a matter of sending out CVs. There’s all the time you need to spend combing through the classified ads. Writing the letters. Going to interviews. This business of looking for a job can be time consuming. That is, if you are serious about it. 25 hours a week is an enormous commitment, and leaves very little time for other responsibilities.

And on the subject of hours, consider this:

The current minimum wage is $640.90 per week, or $16.87 per hour. But if a young unemployed person is required to do community work for 25 hours that adds up to barely more than $10.00 per hour.

Even 18 year old junior employees are supposed to be entitled to a minimum wage of $11.52 per hour. It would appear that the Federal Government wants to force people to work at rates that would be illegal in business. If there is to be any kind of work demanded in return for the support of the taxpayer, it should at least be at a fair rate of pay.

The phrase “mutual obligation” is becoming increasingly Orwellian, with all the obligation weighing heavily on the shoulders of the un-empowered, and very little of it is in any way “mutual.”

It is, however, highly ideological.

The current Liberal Party Government has shown distinct signs of being driven more by the ideology of the hard core right, than by the principles of fairness and opportunity that most politicians claim. Certainly, all the guff about a “budget crisis” and an “economic emergency” is straight out of spin-doctor school.

It’s a time honoured tactic of declaring a crisis, or manufacturing one if a suitable crisis isn’t immediately handy, and then offering to provide the solution. All sides of politics have been guilty of something similar at one time or another. But that’s all OK if the tactic is used to push a policy that ultimately serves a greater good.

In this case, the supposed “greater good” is based on the notion that people who can’t find a job just aren’t trying hard enough, without any consideration of any other potential factors. Of course, that’s understandable given the massive problem Australia faces with unemployment...

Oh wait.

Unemployment is pretty stable at about 6 per cent, and has been for quite some time. Now, if you happen to be one of those people in the six per cent, you would indeed be confronting a crisis. But is the nation suffering an unemployment crisis?

No, it is not.

Obviously, lower unemployment is better. And equally obviously, Australia actually has a much more complex challenge with severe under-employment in many areas. The casualisation of the workforce has left too many people working in jobs with insufficient hours to make ends meet, and without the job security enjoyed by previous generations of full time workers.

But those challenges are not going to be addressed by a system that punishes people when they have been failed by that system. That’s because the fundamental flaw of “mutual obligation” is similar to the fundamental flaw of “user pays.”

It always sounds good in practice, but all too often is not necessarily the most efficient way to manage human affairs. All too often it is those who are least able to afford it who are left to pick up the tab. Whenever a politician tells you that a new proposal will be “better,’ your first question should always be “better for whom?”

Nine times out of ten, it’s not you. And even on the tenth time you would be wise to double check.

We are being told that the proposals put forward by the Government, not just for the unemployed, but for pensioners, for people who visit the doctor, for university students... the list goes on... are all “necessary” for the future prosperity of the nation.

But it’s not true. There are other options. The notion that it’s “my way or the highway” is nothing more than a bully boy tactic, employed to advance an ideological agenda. There are other ways to bring prosperity to the nation, that don’t involve punishing the weak for being weak.

What they have forgotten is the fact that the “nation” is us, including the poor, the weak, the aged, the unwell, the incompetent, the disadvantaged and the dispossessed. We are all in it together whether the Government likes it or not.

There are two reasons that this Government is unpopular. Firstly, it’s because some of their policies are hurting some of the people. But the second reason is the one doing the real damage.  It’s because they flat out said one thing, and then proceeded to do another, blatantly and deliberately.

They have opened their arms wide, and now that we have all had a good look, we can see that those arms are empty.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seems Like Only Yesterday...

It has been 45 years since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon in 1969. The official date was the 20th of July, but with the time difference, it was actually the 21st here in Australia.
With so much going on in the world today, it would be easy to forget the anniversary, but at the time it was a monumental event.
An estimated 600 million people watched the television coverage of Armstrong and Aldrin walking on the moon, setting a record that would not be broken until the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana 12 years later.
Australia played an important role in the moon mission with the Deep Space Tracking Stations at Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla helping to maintain communications.
The famous Parkes Radio Telescope was also a key facility, as portrayed in the Australian feature film “The Dish.”
Of course, we all remember Neil Armstrong’s famous words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
The line was supposed to be “one small step for A man…” and there was controversy for years about whether Armstrong made a mistake, or if the radio link just dropped out momentarily.
Either way, history was made that day, 45 years ago.
Neil Armstrong passed away in 2012 at the age of 82, but his Apollo Eleven colleagues Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are alive and well... Which is more than you can say for the US space program at the moment.
Since the retirement of the space shuttle, American astronauts are currently forced to hitch a ride on Russian space capsules to get the International Space Station….
I’m not sure how much longer that can go on, considering the current friction between Russia and pretty much the rest of the world.
Private companies like Space-X are expected to fill that void in the future, but for the time being, the once mighty NASA has no manned flight capability of its own.
I suspect Neil Armstrong would be disappointed about that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

12 Facts About Asylum Seekers

Just in case you want to weigh in to the argument, you might as well start with the facts, not the BS.

12 Facts About Asylum Seekers
1. It is not illegal to arrive in Australia and ask for asylum.
2. The Refugee Convention specifically states that asylum seekers cannot be penalised for arriving by means which might otherwise be considered illegal.
3. In Australian law, arrival without documentation is “unlawful” or “irregular” but not illegal so long as an asylum seeker presents himself or herself to the authorities to make a claim for asylum.
4. The Refugee Convention stipulates that any claim for asylum will be given proper consideration.
5. The Refugee Convention prohibits “refoulement” or the return of refugees to the jurisdiction from which they are fleeing persecution.
6. UNHCR has stated this week that it has no problem with people being returned to their home country provided it has been established that they are NOT refugees.
7. Those who are found to be genuine refugees are guaranteed protection, but not resettlement. Under the Refugee Convention, the resettlement program is conducted by signatory nations as a voluntary measure.
8. Those who are resettled in Australia are LESS likely to become employed than other immigrants, with about 40 per cent having a job of some sort after the first 4 years.
9. Those who are resettled in Australia are MORE likely to engage in education than other immigrants, with 23 per cent earning a university or technical college qualification after the first 5 years, and about 40 per cent of refugees earn some sort of qualification.
10. Those who are resettled in Australia are MORE likely to receive welfare benefits, with about 85 per cent receiving some sort of payment after the first four years. This compares to about 30 per cent of Australians overall. However, more than 50 per cent of refugees are categorised as either studying full time, setting up a business which is not yet profitable, working as an unpaid carer or simply retired.
11. Those who are resettled in Australia are LESS likely to commit a crime, with a crime rate of about 0.04 per cent compared to the community average of about 1.9 per cent.
12. There are up to 50 million displaced people in the world right now. About 20 million are considered refugees. About 10 million are registered with the UNHCR. In the 38 years from the beginning of 1976 until the end of 2013, a total of 69,445 asylum seekers arrived in Australia by boat.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Conroy Must Go

Conroy Must Go 270214

Whether Senator Stephen Conroy eventually apologises for insulting Lieutenant General Angus Campbell or not, his position as Shadow Minister for Defence must surely be called into question.

When Senator Conroy impugned the integrity of General Campbell, he may have been suffering from a momentary lapse of judgement, or a fit of frustration, but such lapses of judgement are not acceptable from someone who is the alternative Defence Minister.

But reports suggest it was no momentary slip. Instead, it has been revealed that his own colleagues warned him in advance not to pursue such a tactic. It should be no surprise that he chose to press ahead regardless.

Senator Conroy has a reputation for being a tough operator, which might be all very well for the internal politics of the Labor Party, but it is entirely out of order when it comes to dealing with senior officers in the Defence Force. Not only should he apologise, but he should resign from his position as Shadow Minister for Defence.

But I doubt it will happen.

Senator Conroy is one of the most powerful factional leaders within the Labor Party. In fact he is sometimes referred to as a “BOVVER BOY.” As such, he has been instrumental in the back room wheeling and dealing that decides the fate of the party, and its leaders.

Senator Conroy isn’t exactly a “faceless man,” but he was one of the cabal of conspirators who knifed Kevin Rudd in the back in 2010, and we all know how well that worked out. The party lost its grip on government, was forced to endure a hung parliament for three years, and is still struggling to overcome the fallout.

It was Stephen Conroy who was instrumental in getting Bill Shorten into the Parliament, and subsequently installed as Leader of the Party. So don’t expect Bill Shorten to be too tough with Senator Conroy… he’s hardly likely to bite the hand that feeds him.

But back room politics is one thing… running the country is another. Conroy’s record as a parliamentarian is just as disturbing as his efforts within the party.

As Minister for Communications in the previous government, Senator Conroy promised to deliver the world’s best internet, at an extraordinary cost, and then set about trying to censor it.

The results of the effort were farcical, when a trial of the proposed filtering system blocked perfectly innocent websites belonging to businesses such as dentists and doctors.

He was accused of conducting a scare campaign when he suggested that Google could be collecting people’s internet banking details.

But the pinnacle of Senator Conroy’s foolishness, at least until now, was his ill-judged effort to impose draconian restrictions upon the media in the dying days of the Gillard Government.

The proposed legislation was widely condemned as an attempt to gag media criticism of the government, and an assault on the principle of a free press.

Senator Conroy has demonstrated time after time that he is a clown… but unfortunately his antics are not funny.

His latest brain explosion, attacking the integrity of General Campbell, has rightly been condemned by everyone, except his own colleagues, who apparently are too frightened of him to say boo.

Bill Shorten might try to gloss over it, claiming that the criticism is directed at the government who is issuing the orders, rather than the military officers who are following them, but that just doesn’t cut it.

Unfortunately for Mr Shorten, Senator Conroy scored a spectacular own-goal by attacking the wrong man. The fallout from this error has left the Opposition Leader floundering in the Parliament, when he should have been in a position to nail the Government to the wall over their obsession with secrecy.

Instead of calling the Government to account, not only for its iron grip on information, but also for its clear failure in maintaining the peace on Manus Island, it was the Opposition who was targeted with a motion to admonish Senator Conroy.

In the meantime, the strange state of affairs arose where the only person who seemed to realise just how far off the rails the debate had run, was the Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Mr Bandt said after Question Time, “Parliament has once again missed the point. A man has been killed while in our care. We should be debating why this happened and how we can stop it happening again, not wasting time in another Liberal/Labor tit-for-tat.”

It should be hard to disagree with a statement like that, but such is the extraordinary state of affairs that we are currently witnessing a Coalition Government implementing a policy introduced by a previous Labor Prime Minister in a desperate attempt to be re-elected.

The upshot is that the new Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, is unable to attack the Government on the policy itself, only the way it is managed. Both sides of the Parliament support off-shore processing, both sides embrace Manus Island, and both sides should be held accountable for the debacle that is unfolding.

In the meantime, we have been left with the spectacle of witnessing the Shadow Minister for Defence confronting a senior general, of unquestioned integrity, and directly accusing him of participating in a political cover up.

There is absolutely no way that Senator Conroy will ever enjoy the trust and the confidence of the military leadership after such a monumental insult. He can never become Defence Minister, when or if the Labor Party somehow miraculously returns to government.

His position as Shadow Minister for Defence is untenable, and the longer he stays in any senior position, the longer the Labor Party will remain unelectable.