Need not to know

I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had a gutful of these whinging lefties rabbiting on about whether the PM knew about doubts over the reliability of intelligence about Saddam seeking uranium in Africa, and why assorted spy outfits failed to tell him despite the fact that even the tea-lady knew the reports were a crock of horse manure. Don’t the Left read John Le Carre or watch James Bond movies? Intelligence agencies work on a “need-to-know” basis, and John Howard didn’t need to know. What’s more, he didn’t even want to know. Would you want an intelligence agency too unintelligent to realise when information is unwelcome? This is spying in a post-Hayekian era: the market’s invisible hand inexorably leads to the most efficient solution at the lowest marginal cost.

Of course, the nattering nabobs of negativism mutter about democratic “trust”, but for goodness sake, how ridiculous! Who else but the communards at the Silly Moaning Hillmer doesn’t know that politicians lie whenever they open their mouths?

Some really carping nabobs even point to the danger that the public service might second guess wrongly one day, and fail to tell a Minister something he really did need to know. But Australia’s highly evolved system of neo-responsible government has ways of dealing with this. The Departmental Head concerned is ritually sacrificed with a generous redundancy payout, and if Murpack still isn’t satisfied the Minister retires and takes up a lucrative post as a corporate sector lobbyist. In the Australian system, Ministers aren’t sacked unless A Current Affair TV crew catches them in bed with a dead girl or a live boy under fourteen years old. You might think this is an attenuated ethical regime, but they’re higher standards than we apply to sporting superstars. Just ask Gary Ablett or Wayne Carey or Warnie.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

We could maybe solve it by putting Warnie in to head ONA……”Nattering Nabobs of Negativism” …are you chanelling Spiro Agnew – or Clarke and Dawe, Ken? Welcome back.

Ron Mead
Ron Mead
2022 years ago

What amazes me about all this nuclear beat-up is that nuclear capabilities were never a central issue in the WMD debate before the invasion. They were effectively discounted by the nuclear specialist in Blix’s team (I’ve forgotten his name) and at worst were referred to only in passing by Bush, Blair and Howard. Crean, Rudd and Co fling around the word “lies” extremely loosely to apply to the dissemination of any information that later proves to be false, with or without intent.

The left is the natural home of conspiracy theorists and the one that bureaucrats have been encouraged to develop a culture of not passing on unwelcome news to Ministers is one of their favourite furphies. My short experience in the public service late in my career leads me to the overwhelming view that stuff-ups are many times more likely than conspiracies, overt or covert.

Gummo Trotsky
2022 years ago

Women’s undies in the desk ashtray are positively tame by today’s standards.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Don’t forget Mick Young’s Panda Bear.

meika the dolebludger
2022 years ago

spin=lies=fraud=whatdidyaexpect

http://we.pay.them.to.lie.to.us

no wonder i don’t feel like working for the turds

its a question of identification

my blogpost covers it less tactfully

i dont like being lied to, i don’t expect anything better, i can only hope hurting Mr Economy is a worthwhile cultural act,

Niall
2022 years ago

Bad things happen when good people do nothing. Liars for sure & certain ain’t good people.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

My memory’s apparently going. I can’t remember Mick’s Panda Bear. Paddington Bear, yes; but the Chinese agent bear, no. I guess it’s time I stopped relying on my memory?
But I AM sure it’s not just the left who engage in conspiracy theories. The right used to do it a lot — especially when they otherwisw only had a weak case. THAT’S the time when people [be they left OR right]really need conspiracy theories.

craig
craig
2022 years ago

Just because the intelligence agencies are producing intelligence at the lowest marginal cost doesn’t mean that we the consumers will not pay a high price.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Paddington Bear, quite right Norman. What the hell is a Paddington Bear anyway? A trendy bear?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris,

Paddington Bear was the principal character ina wonderful series of English chidlren’s books by Michael Bond. He arrived in London on a freighter from Darkest Peru and was adopted by Mr and Mrs Brown, who live in Windsor Gardens. Paddington has an endless series of misadventures, wandering around in a battered rain hat and duffle coat, carrying a briefcase with secret compartments containing his favourite jar of marmalade. Paddington’s mentor was Mr Gruber, who ran an antique shop in the Portobello Road, and they used to have “elevenses” together every morning.

I imagine Mick Young must have read Paddington to his kids, and was bringing back an actual fluffy Paddington for his kids as a souvenir. It’s a bit sad to reflect on how his essentially wholesome (if careless) action effectively ended his ministerial career, where Ministers today easily survive far more sleazy acts.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Paddington Bear is an English bear of the aspirant
lower middle classes who became a childhood favourite following the publication of a book about his adventures and, subsequently, a TV series targetted to the PlaySchool demographic. He was part of the bridging era between Little Noddy and Harry Potter, along with the Wombles of Wimbledon Common with whom he had significant shared class interests.

He invariably wore a plastic raincoat and matching daggy hat. In our cultural discourse he would more accurately be described as Penrith Bear rather than Paddington Bear. He grew up to become Mark Latham.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Hmmmm. I’d forgotten about the dubious Mr Gruber and the ‘elevenses’ in the antique shop. Let’s hope that Mr Gruber was merely inculcating Paddington in the possibilities and potentialities of the antiques investment market.

Gianna
2022 years ago

geoff, that’s so funny! I loved paddington bear (from darkest peru!), and i guess i was one of those aspirant lower middle classes, albeit here in Oz.

ken, this is a funny post, but i am surprised that some of you want to shrug all this off so easily. to me, the sticking point is that no-one corrected the PM. so even if they had determined that he didn’t ‘need to know’ something, surely they still ‘needed to tell’ him that the claims he was publicly making were false.

obviously the intel agencies didn’t wish to interfere with the march of war at the time, but i reckon they must’ve had the duty to inform him. and you know what, they probably did–that would explain why the PM was so embarrassed when it all came out this week, and why he was so keen not to blame the agencies. it wouldn’t surprise me if Howard and Downer have known for some time that they goofed.

anyway, in future, when the PM struts around doing his PR, i’m gonna be thinking ‘buddy, you don’t even know if that’s true yourself, and you’re asking me to buy it.’ no wait, i’ve always thought that.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Gianna,

I should have inserted *irony* tags.

Gianna
2022 years ago

well, i did sense a bit of irony but decided to have a small rant anyway.

Norman
Norman
2022 years ago

I’m relieved to learn my memory’s better than I thought. I have to confess, though, that all this detailed “Paddington” material above is news to me. Clearly I must have watched the wrong programmes, and read the wrong books. Like “cs”, we just don’t have enough time to read everything we’d like to.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

Norman I’m not persuaded for one minute that you’d really like to be better acquainted with the adventures of Paddington Bear – and would be if only time permitted. I think you’re just being polite.

mark
2022 years ago

“nattering nabobs of negativism” — Alan Jones, through-and-through. Well, Tim Blair occasionally goes for it (as does Backberner’s strawman, whose name I’ve forgotten), but he’s consciously parodising the right-wing-moron-of-a-pundit attitude (I assume as a wry “giving you lefties what you want” ironic jab), but it’s Jones all the way. (Was that a conscious thing?)

I had a book on Paddington Bear once. He hears something in the greenhouse(!), goes to check it out, nothing very much happens, the end. There were illustrations, too. I think it was a fairly modern thingy. Kinda like the Crichton Effect: book is written, movie made from the book, novelisation of movie is written.

Ahem. Great post, Ken.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Geoff Honnor was right. The expression was actually first used (as far as I know) by Richard Nixon’s Vice-President Spiro T. Agnew in 1970. That’s 33 years ago, and the depressing thing is that I remember it as if it was yesterday.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I recall that Agnew was actually referring to the ‘east coast liberal media’ – NYT and the Washington Post. Plus ca change as Paddington Bear would say.

trackback
2022 years ago

Ken arcs up

DO YOU GET the feeling Ken Parish maybe is being just a mite sarcastic?…