Backstopping Back Pages

(both via Chris Sheil) I’m not sure whether calculated blindness is any less morally reprehensible than outright lying, but the revelation in this morning’s Oz that John Howard did lie outright about children overboard, rather than just being kept in “plausibly deniable” ignorance, is potentially very significant.

Moreover, as the Oz article observes:

The affair was a decisive factor in the November 10 election, with the Howard Government using the incident to stoke public anger against asylum-seekers and divide Labor over border protection policy.


Of course, most RWDBs will simply ignore it, while others will claim that “children overboard” wasn’t really all that crucial to Howard’s election victory anyway. Still others, and perhaps many of the electorate at large who even notice, will dismiss its significance on the basis that all politicians lie anyway* . But it seems to me that this (like Keating’s L-A-W law tax cut lie) is a quite crucial lie that goes to the heart of the integrity of the democratic system. Keating’s lie condemned Labor to justified political odium for several years. Howard’s might well have a similar effect on the Coalition, except that it’s less likely to be absorbed by the bulk of disengaged voters than failure to get a tax cut they were solemnly promised in return for their vote. Anyway, it certainly clinches my voting decision, whatever else happens between now and the election. This bastard must go. As Paul Sheehan observed in this morning’s SMH (though with a different spin): “Politics may be infinitely complex, but elections are decided for simple reasons.” This one should be decided on the basis that Howard is a lying, sleazy, divisive disgrace who should be terminated with extreme prejudice as a matter of basic hygeine.

* Oh, I almost forgot the other logical spin option for reality-denying RWDBs. Claim it’s the ex-staffer who’s lying and not Howard! Some goose in Chris Sheil’s comment box is already running that one. Will Tim Blair be far behind?

I also concur with Chris’s high assessment of this opinion piece on the Iraq war by arch-conservative poet Les Murray. Here’s the money quote:

Far better, perhaps to have got out when they caught Saddam. If, as we are told, the whole Islamic world is in the grip of a cultural civil war between Westernisers and harsh traditionalists, surely it is unwise for a sole infidel Great Power already hated for its success and alleged spiritual emptiness to feed energy to the very side it doesn’t like.

That’s not to say I agree with Murray. I still think it would be very unwise to get out at least until the first democratic elections are held and an elected government has taken the reins, and until basic training of Iraqi military and police is advanced enough for them to maintain a measure of security. Otherwise the West will just end up with a failed state in a strategically vital region, and be forced to go back in anyway. But with any sort of luck, withdrawal by mid 2005 should be very feasible.

Lastly, I was struck by the willingness of (arguably) Australia’s leading poet to end a sentence with a preposition when he didn’t need to do so. Was it for dramatic effect?

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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Fred
Fred
2022 years ago

Ken – That ‘goose’ is me.

Why is so hard to believe that he might be lying when there is a document floating around with his signature on it that specifically indicates that his advice to the PM was that the evidence was inconclusive.

What he thought, or what he has decide was the case in hindsight is kind of irrelevant if he’s already signed a statement that says he did what he now claims he didn’t.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Fred

It’s not unreasonable to point out prior inconsistent statements. What is unreasonable is simply to choose to believe the one that suits your political predilections without any attempt at assessing which one is more likely to be true. Prima facie, the fact that Scrafton was still an employee when they had him sign the prior statement would suggest that what he’s saying now is much more likely to be the truth, and that conclusion is reinforced by the fact that he was prevented by the Coalition government from giving evidence before the Senate committee, when it was clearly centrally relevant to the subject of the investigation.

Of course, if someone comes up with facts that suggest why Scrafton might now be lying (e.g.disgruntled ex-employee who was sacked and carries a grudge), then I would reconsider my evaluation. But unless that occurs, weighing the evidence inevitably leads to a strong conclusion that Howard lied.

BTW I agree with your comment box reaction to James Quest’s parrotting of the Tony Kevin conspiracy line on SIEV X, and for exactly the same reason as above. My best efforts at objective evaluation of the evidence lead me to a conclusion that the RAN/RAAF didn’t knowingly allow people to drown, and didn’t deliberately look the other way. Whether Australia was involved in a covert people smuggler disruption operation that went wrong (Kevin’s deeper conspiracy theory) is another question, on which there is insufficient evidence to form any conclusion at all.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

BTW I shouldn’t have called you a goose. Lapse in civility. Sorry. But it’s an ill-considered opinion just the same.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Fred,
He was a defence liasion officer which isn’t technically a staffer.

I would have thought all but the apologsts would have realised that howard was lying or to put in in parish terms avoiding the truth.

There certainly is an issue of truth and john howard being diamtrically opposite. This happens to all leaders. This merely means his credibility is diminished like Keating’s in 1996.

Rowen
2022 years ago

I think the existence of the senate letter mentioned above could equally be spun to argue that Howard bullied an honest public servant into lying to the senate to protect his butt. Whether or not it’s true, it’s as plausible as claiming he’s lying now. As Ken points out, if the man told the truth in the first place, the efforts at keeping him out of the inquiry looks bad now.

Howard has been good at avoiding politically sensitive material by claiming he wasn’t told. We all know he was (that someone so politically aware would miss so many important developments only when it suits him politically says he is either very lucky or employing selective deafness), but that plausable deniability is important. Without proof it’s impossible to pin something like children overboard on him, beyond “political innuendo” and the like.

Regardless, unless this gets some serious traction in the media, the Olympics are completely overshadowing it. There have been some comments that the Labor party is behind the release of the information, but they woud know better than to release it on the day we win 5 gold medals. Thorpie trumps boat people every day of the week. Labor, if they have a scrap of sense, would have kept that powder dry, at least waiting until Parliament reconvenes in late August so the responses can be got onto Hansard.

Fred
Fred
2022 years ago

Ken – why is it that someone who has made a prior inconsistent statement should be given the prima facie benefit of the doubt rather than be asked to explain why he made that prior statement. You are deliberatly reversing the onus because your gut tells you Howard has lied. Thats fine if thats your belief, but at least couch it in those terms.

I happen to think the whole thing was a schmozzle that erupted because defence gave some advice they weren’t 100% sure of and Howard went with it because it was a campaign, and all the twists and turns following that have been blown so far out of proportion as to be ludicrous. Howard admitted that his initial statement might have been wrong, it was well reported, and it had certainly a negligle impact on the election outcome. The refugee issue had its impact back in August and right afterwards when Beazley failed to support the relating legislation.

Howard responded as the information developed and became more solid – which i think he should be entitled to do during an election campaign.

Why Scrafton would change his mind now, i don’t know, but the thing to remember is that he wasn’t a party staffer, he was a secondee from the defense bureacracy, so there can be no assumptions about his party affliation – but this is very plainly a political excerise designed to hurt Howard three years after the facts in question and just as an election may be approaching – that’s more than enough to make me very cynical and suspicious about his motives.

Gary
2022 years ago

“children overboard” wasn’t really all that crucial to Howard’s election victory anyway”

Well it wasn’t with me and the people I knew then but unlike LWSL’s (left wing screaming loonies) I cant say definitively why people voted why they did.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

The only problem with saying that Kiddies overboard wasn’t crucial in the vote in 2001 is that almost all the Liberal advertising in the last week was aimed at that.

mark
2022 years ago

Gary, I like the term “Left-Wing Screaming Loonies”. However, they’re not really screaming anymore. Everyone’s a little hoarse after three years of filling in for Cassandra on the “Howard lied!” issue, so all that can be managed ATM is a sort of whiny croak.

Fred, that’s beautiful. A man who apparently lied because Howard wanted him to has no credibility because… he lied. Is Howard, on the other hand, a victim of circumstance?

Gary
2022 years ago

I don’t watch much TV Homer but I would be surprised if the Liberal’s advertising “Kiddies overboard”.

True RWDB
True RWDB
2022 years ago

“this is very plainly a political excerise designed to hurt Howard three years after the facts in question and just as an election may be approaching – that’s more than enough to make me very cynical and suspicious about his motives.”

Quite so, Fred. It’s one of the most cynical dirty tricks the ALP has tried so far in this campaign. Unfortunately however it will also be the most effective, far more so the 43 DDDs. Howard’s gone, and the sooner we get it over with the better. I just can’t wait for my turn as one of the Latham-haters. I’ll be just as irrational and spiteful as the Howard haters have been for 9 years. I’ll enjoy it though, just as they have.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Someone over on Back Pages has just made the (possibly very good) point that Fred seems to be the only person actually claiming that Scrafton ever signed an earlier letter inconsistent with what he’s now saying. No-one (including the PM’s spokesperson) in this quite detailed follow-up story on the SMH website mentions it, and you’d expect they would if it existed. Like the commnenter on Chris’s blog, I’m not necessarily suggesting that Fred just made it up, but it would be useful if he could supply a reference beyond his own naked assertion.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

As Uncle at ABCWatch points out, there appears to be a reluctance to use the word ‘lied’ in either the 43 bean statement or this latest suspiciously timed ‘revelation’. Use of more ambiguous generalisations like ‘misled’, ‘deceived’, ‘dishonest’ show that all the parties are on message…but they all seem to know that they cannot substantiate the ‘lie’ claim.

I’m not trying to be obtuse here, but could somebody please define in a sentence or two exactly how Howard is meant to have ‘lied’. And, no, it’s not obvious to me, even after reading everything the Oz had to say about it.

Consider this latest bit of novel thinking brought to us by the Oz and the alternative PM…

ALLEGATIONS that the Federal Government knew children overboard claims were incorrect proved John Howard misled the Australian people and should apologise, Labor leader Mark Latham said today.

Excuse me? As many of my ham-fisted posts have made abundantly clear, I’m no legal authority, but I was reasonably certain that ‘allegations’ don’t ‘prove’ anything.

It seems to me that the only ‘new’ issue here is the coincidentally timed claim by Scrafton versus the the denial from the PM’s office:

…[A spokesman] said Mr Howard did speak to Mr Scrafton on the night in question, but the conversations were essentially about the contents of the video.

He said Mr Howard did not agree with Mr Scrafton’s comments on the dating of the photographs or the fact that that no one in Defence believed the children overboard claim was true.

He said Mr Scrafton made no subsequent reference to his concerns in other discussions with Defence officials…

I mean, seriously, I cannot come at the the argument that:

[What Scrafton is] interested in is making sure the process that the Senate inquiry set in place has the full information

…at a time that the cynic might say closely resembles a calculated effort to guess the eve of the federal election?

I find it hard to believe that Scrafton decided to become the 44th bean without a reason.

Altruism? Maybe.
Anger at being made a scapegoat? Possibly.
Willing participant in orchestrated ALP campaign? I couldn’t rightly say.

But I will say this. Scrafton claims that:

…his main catalyst for speaking out was the way in which the government treated 43 former diplomats and military leaders who last week signed a letter questioning the motivation for the Iraq war.

“The trigger was the disrespect with which the 43 signatories of the open letter were treated and how the issue was moved away from truth in government onto them personally…

In my opinion, such wounded innocence is unbecoming. The 43 beans attacked the government during an election campaign. What were they expecting? Flowers and a bunch of roses?. And Scrafton’s use of the term ‘truth in government’ sounds remarkably consistent with the earlier 43 bean statement, which, in turn, sounds like standard soft version of the ‘Howard Lied’ mantra.

Oh, by the way, I wonder who drafted the 43 bean statement? I know who signed it, but I must have missed the drafter’s name.

I’m not expecting an answer on that one any time soon.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Oh, and Ken, I quote from the ABC:

The Prime Minister’s Office also went on to say that Mike Scrafton had given a written statement to the initial departmental investigation in which he didn’t raise either of these claims.

And also on the 3rd of January 2002 he was asked directly, according to the Prime Minister’s office, if the children were thrown into the water on the 7th of October, if he’d been told they were. His answer to that, says, the Prime Minister was no. The Prime Minister’s office says both of those statements were written to the senate inquiry at the time.

I don’t know if those statements are to be found in the released CMI report, but they’re probably what Fred is refering to.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Al

But neither of those statements is inconsistent with what Scrafton is now saying.

And your first comment seems just to be saying that we should disbelieve Scrafton because:
– he’s saying Howard is lying;
– the 43 worthies also said Howard was lying (albeit about a different subject);
– you don’t think much of the 43 worthies (or at least the handful of them that Bunyip et al have managed to find a basis for slagging – the rest of them get slurred by association);
– therefore by extension we should also dismiss Scrafton.

It doesn’t strike me as a very convincing argument. If you can tell me why we should believe Scrafton is lying, I might be more impressed. On the other hand, it’s blatantly obvious why Howard would have been (and, to all but the determinedly blind, was) lying.

Gary
2022 years ago

I most be blind then Ken because Scrafton’s assessment differed to others does not prove Howard lied.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

It’s not a matter of Scrafton’s assessment differing from someone else’s. Howard has previously denied that he was ever told prior to the election that children weren’t thrown overboard. Scrafton has flatly contradicted that.

True RWDB
True RWDB
2022 years ago

“Oh, by the way, I wonder who drafted the 43 bean statement?”

Al, My bet (say 2 to 1 on) is Cavan Hogue.

True RWDB
True RWDB
2022 years ago

“If you can tell me why we should believe Scrafton”

You did say that above, Ken. See how easily you can be misquoted!

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

My apologies, Ken.

I should have included the para that was immediately preceding the two I pasted. Here are the three in their entirety:

According to the Prime Minister’s office, their position is that Mike Scrafton did not raise the two other points that he discusses this morning in his letter, the points that the photographs were not of the children being thrown overboard and secondly that no one in Defence believed the claim was true.

The Prime Minister’s Office also went on to say that Mike Scrafton had given a written statement to the initial departmental investigation in which he didn’t raise either of these claims.

And also on the 3rd of January 2002 he was asked directly, according to the Prime Minister’s office, if the children were thrown into the water on the 7th of October, if he’d been told they were. His answer to that, says, the Prime Minister was no. The Prime Minister’s office says both of those statements were written to the senate inquiry at the time.

There, that puts in better context, so at least you can see that the PM’s office is making the claim about Scrafton’s earlier omission, not Fred on his lonesome, which was my point in the first place.

And, no, I don’t believe Scrafton has accused the PM of lying. Nor do I believe that Scrafton is necessarily lying…

The money shot in Scrafton’s claims is:

What would I have told the Senate committee? On the evening of November 7, 2001, after having viewed the tape from the HMAS Adelaide at Maritime HQ in Sydney, I spoke to the Prime Minister by mobile phone on three occasions.

In the course of those calls I recounted to him that: a) the tape was at best inconclusive as to whether there were any children in the water but certainly didn’t support the proposition that the event had occurred; b) that the photographs that had been released in early October were definitely of the sinking of the refugee boat on October 8 and not of any children being thrown into the water; and c) that no one in Defence that I dealt with on the matter still believed any children were thrown overboard.

It seems to me from reading Scrafton’s description of the events of 07 Nov, that the PM genuinely believed he still had a case for the chucking incident.

So please, tell me what the lie is, and when it occurred. I’m not trying to be smartarse, I’m genuinely interested in the specifics of this very serious allegation.

James
James
2022 years ago

What puzzles me is the specifity of the “children overboard” affair. Deliberate endangerment of life was a common refugee tactic in the lead up to the election. Several boats were sabotaged or scuttled to force the Australian navy to take the occupants aboard.

Indeed, all 76 children on SIEV-4 (the subject of “children overboard”) ended up in the water. A child *was* thrown in the water from SIEV-7.

I doubt that “children overboard” had much to do with the election results. 9/11 and the Tampa had pretty much settled the outcome weeks before SIEV-4 came on the scene.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

“I doubt that “children overboard” had much to do with the election results. 9/11 and the Tampa had pretty much settled the outcome weeks before SIEV-4 came on the scene.”

Then why, as others have observed, did the Coalition run saturation advertising in the last week of the campaign, featuring this incident allied with the more general “we will decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they come” message? Do you think the Liberal Party just felt magnanimous towards its advertising agency and the TV networks, and thought it would be a really nice idea to give them all that money for ads they really had no need to run because the outcome was pretty well settled weeks before? Yeah, right!

James
James
2022 years ago

“Then why, as others have observed, did the Coalition run saturation advertising in the last week of the campaign, featuring this incident allied with the more general “we will decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they come” message?”

Did they? I don’t recall that, but being primarily an ABC/SBS viewer I might be wrong.

As I’ve pointed out, endangering people was a common tactic employed by would-be refugees in the months preceding the election, so I’m not clear why such a campaign should be considered deceptive.

And if the “we will decide who comes here and the circumstances in which they come” message resonated with the electorate, why not?

The gummint’s policy was certainly hardline, but it was also almost unbelievably effective, with zero illegal boat arrivals for two years.

Rob
Rob
2022 years ago

Well another question might be, If they felt this “lie” was so important to their re-election hopes, why did they release the video that was so damaging to their claims to the public a few days *before* the election date if they were so hell bent on lying their way to the other side of election day? They could easily have toughed it out for another couple of days, won the election, and then had years for people to forget about the deception, but instead they released it at the worst possible time for them.
This, by the way appeared to have little or no effect on the result of the election. And wasn’t there a survey done that showed refugees weren’t a big factor in how people voted?

yobbo
2022 years ago

They all lie. The choice in voting is voting for the liars who you think will give you the best deal. I don’t care if Howard said he invented liquid paper as long as he will run the economy better than liquid paper. Likewise, I don’t care how many taxi drivers Latham beat up or how many slags he shagged if he turns out to be more of a liberal than Howard.

We don’t elect these people to be our friends, simply to run the country. I don’t really understand Ken’s “vote against Howard because he’s a liar” stance unless he’s trying to say that politicians have to deserve the office they’re running for. In that case we wouldn’t have any, none of them deserve it.

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
2022 years ago

The business of getting Shackleton to put out a “qualifier” to his statement that there was no such incident as children overboard …

is a pretty fair indicator that the government was more interested getting an impression across than getting at the truth.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to check out the details than heavy Shackleton (a la Mick Keelty) into a retraction?

jamesquest
jamesquest
2022 years ago

ken, i had never heard of tony kevin until u said i was parroting him. my view was based on what i heard david marr say on the radio some months ago and what i had read along the lines that the kiddies overboard enquiry had taken evidence saying the governemnt had forewarning about the siev-x’s likely diaster at sea and withdrew surveillance choosing to not want to know should the worst happen. and it did. and i think it stinks

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

James

I wouldn’t be at all surprised what Tony Kevin David Marr might have said in radio interviews or elsewhere. However, Senator John Faulkner (who probably knows more about SIEV X than just about anyone, and whose integrity (for a politician) is generally regarded highly, said this in a speech in July last year after the Senate Committee hearings were wound up (arguably prematurely, although what else they could have achieved given Howard government non-cooperation is questionable):
I note the ADF worked assiduously to cooperate with the CMI Committee – even when the Government and Defence Minister Robert Hill were deliberately obstructive.
That said, and I want to make this clear, we have seen no evidence to support claims that the Australian Defence Force ignored the plight of those onboard SIEVX. And without any evidence I will draw no such conclusions.
Moreover, there seems to be an inherent contradiction between Kevin’s suggestions (which he appears to soft pedal these days) that the defence forces were given a direction to keep out of the area of the sinking, and other claims that a RAAF Orion flew right over the spot where SIEV X sank shortly after the time when it most probably happened, but failed to see survivors (or fishing boats picking them up). How can both these claims stand together? On the Orion point, I can only think that those who make it have never flown over the ocean and experienced just how hard it is to see a small vessel even when you know it’s probably there, let alone people in the water.

A quick glance at the SIEV X website maintained by Marg Hutton suggests that she at least is no longer pushing the claim that the RAAF or RAN were given any such directive. However, I can’t claim I’ve examined every single page of Hutton’s site.

c8to
2022 years ago

according to this,

http://smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/16/1092508347121.html

howard says scraft told him the evidence was inconclusive: “He gave me a description of the video and expressed the view that it was inconclusive.” (howard)

the oz article, linked above (

has these scrafton quotes relating to the actual phone call (which is the point in question, nothing else):

“During the last conversation, the Prime Minister asked me how it was that he had a report from the Office of National Assessments (ONA) confirming the children overboard incident.

“I replied that I had gained the impression that the report had as its source the public statements of the Minister for Immigration.

“When queried by him as to how this could be, I suggested that question was best directed to Kim Jones, then the director-general ONA.

“I understood it was a very complex issue for the Prime Minister.

“I was surprised, however, at the unqualified use of advice that he had received some weeks before,” Mr Scrafton told The Australian yesterday.

so, what does scrafton actually claim he told the PM? that the ONA report’s source was the claims of a politician. when pressed further by howard, scrafton advises to ask the head of the ONA.

so as far as this evidence goes scrafton needs to elaborate on what he said to the PM. a further question is whether howard did follow up the claim with the head of the ONA?

i’m not convinced one way or the other, but i haven’t heard conclusive evidence from the “howard is lieing, boot him out” school of thought

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

c8to

I suggest you read Chris Sheil’s summary of the state of play here. The situation is much more damning for Howard than you assert.

Going back momentarily to SIEV X, I should stress that it has little or nothing to do with the immediate question of Howard’s lying about “children overboard”. I responded to James Quest above, but I’d prefer that the discussion doesn’t get diverted onto that issue at present. That isn’t to say that there are no outstanding questions in relation to SIEV X. John Faulkner, whose judgment I respect, thinks there remain very real and important questions about the natur, extent and effect of Australian people smuggler disruption activites in Indonesia. One day those questions should be pursued.

c8to
2022 years ago

thanks for the quick reply.

i am not asserting anything, except that i havent been convinced by the information proffered by the smh or the oz.

off to check sheil’s summary.

i agree there are interesting questions in the sidetracks.

c8to
2022 years ago

why is it more damning?

i agree with sheil’s description of scrafton’s four points.

all this adds to my point above is:

scrafton’s impression of the defence force is that they didnt believe anyone was thrown overboard.

and photos released were not of children being thrown overboard.

if i were howard i would have followed up on the claim with the ONA, and mentioned scraft’s advice that the defence force does not believe that children were thrown overboard.

this is the best article i have come across so far: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,10455922%255E2702,00.html

all scrafton is claiming is that the PM failed to make public the advice given to him (by scrafton).

in other words, howard did not tell the public that an advisor thought the evidence was inconclusive.

i would have to research exactly what howard said in the days following this call.

jamesquest
jamesquest
2022 years ago

thanx 4 that ken re siev-x. i shall look into it. i think what u say is right, that one day we will all know what really happened in this tragedy and the other things where the truth is deliberately being kept opaque. perhaps i erred in asserting the govt’s culpability, i’m not sure: i just don’t trust the bastards to pee straight, of that i am sure.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

C8to

Chris’s summary outlines Scrafton’s telephone avice to Howard as follows:

(1) the video didn’t prove children were thrown overboard (“inconclusive”). In the subsequent phone calls, Scrafton advised that:
(2) the photographs that had been released were of the sinking of the refugee boat and not of children being thrown into the water;
(3) no one in Defence that he had spoken to on the matter believed any children were thrown overboard; and
(4) the inconsistency between his advice and the ONA intelligence report was that intel was just picking up the minister’s comments, and that Howard should check with ONA on its veracity.

Howard said, the day after the 3 phone calls from Scrafton that:

“I was subsequently informed in writing that the incident had occurred, without any qualifications. I had every reason to believe that. I still have every reason to …”

And:

“I have no information or suggestion that they have reviewed their advice, no, I haven’t …”

Both statements are lies by any definition in light of what Scrafton told him the night before.

Gary
2022 years ago

Are you grabbing at straws Ken

“I was subsequently informed in writing that the incident had occurred, without any qualifications. I had every reason to believe that. I still have every reason to …”

Perhaps he was refering to the intelligence report and not Scrafton’s phone calls.

“I have no information or suggestion that they have reviewed their advice, no, I haven’t …”

Again it reads like he was refering to the ONA.

zoot
zoot
2022 years ago

Who’s grabbing at straws?

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Whatever the 2 different assessments of the truth of the video evidence, the ‘inconclusive’ assessment that Howard got from Scrafton that night, led him to release it for public viewing the next day. That was my recall of the events leading up to the election, that by the time voters went to the polls, the kids overboard was not a goer unless you still wanted to believe it(ie a rusted on position) My perception of the election at the time was, it was won by the party that was tough on illegals and said no to a hijacked rescue ship landing, while the other party dithered and obfuscated. As far as I perceive it there are a swag of luvvies who wish it weren’t so, just like they still believe Whitlam would have won his last election except for John Kerr. Delusional Labor mythology.

The only advice I have to such deluded Labor followers is, if you want your party to be a one term wonder in govt, welcome the next(and the next….) boat load ashore and into the community and the arms of the Julian Burnsides, etc, to test your beliefs.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

observa

Children overboard was clearly an important part of the Coalition’s election campaign, as witnessed by the focus on it in the last week of the campaign (that’s the period when all the events involving Scrafton occurred). Whatever others may claim, I’m certainly not saying it was the only factor, just an important one. Moreover, the precise amount of importance it held in determining the result of the last election isn’t the issue here. The issue is whether Howard lied to the people and the Parliament about an important issue at the last election. Like Keating in 1996, he clearly did. And he should suffer the same fate.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Nor am I saying Australia (under Labor or otherwise) should throw open the doors to illegal immigrants. As you’re presumably aware, I support (albeit with reservations) the offshore processing of asylum seekers (though not the detention of children or the unnecessarily harsh and isolated conditions). Again this isn’t the issue. The issue is whether Howard lied, and he did.

But while I’m on the point of peripheral (to whether Howard lied) but important points, I should note that although children clearly weren’t thrown overboard, and Howard clearly knew that by 7-8 November but lied about it, I’m certainly not saying that the SIEV 4 mob were lily white. Although they didn’t chuck their kids into the water, they DID deliberately sink their boat the very next day to ensure they had to be taken for asylum processing, and their kids ended up in the water. Thus, Howard’s original point, that these were people who were prepared to put their children at risk to get to Australia, was partly true.

However, the spin Howard puts on those sorts of events wasn’t i.e. that Australians would regard that behaviour as meaning that these were unprincipled, self-centred people (not like us) who we didn’t want as migrants under any circumstances. In fact the whole exercise of coming to Australia in small leaky boats was hazardous for all of them, adults and children alike, and sinking their boats, especially while wearing life jackets and in spitting distance of an Australian naval vessel that they knew would rescue them, really wasn’t especially risky. In fact a lot less risky than the lives most of them had led in their homelands, and in the refugee camps in Pakistan and elsewhere. These were desperate people desperately seeking asylum in a safe, free country by the only means available to them.

It doesn’t mean we must accept all of them, but we certainly shouldn’t be demonising them either. I suspect that most Australians would behave in a similar way if put in the situations of those people. They were acting to save their children from harm, not put them at risk, and for Howard to demonise them cynically, and then blatantly lie to prevent his poisonous, deliberately divisive fable from unravelling embarrassingly before election day, is repulsive in the extreme.

Tobe
Tobe
2022 years ago

Looking at this thread its hard not to get the impression that the prick is going to get away with it again.
I’ve noticed that blog commentary sections are a good indication of how a particular issue is going to travel. If something is a knock-out blow the comments will be almost totally one-sided, with the “losing” side staying very quite.

Lets just hope that the real media keeps this one going like it should.

c8to
2022 years ago

thankyou ken, that clears it up…

while gary is technically right, that he might be referring to the ONA report, his (howard’s) comments are negligent…

he did have advice, from someone else (namely scrafton) that the ONA report was inaccurate (and unfounded). although the ONA may not have reviewed their evidence, Howard should have…

thus, if ken is accurate (and i trust he is and could produce references) howard’s comments are:

a) misleading and
b) negligent

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

c8to: “negligent”? Are you seriously trying to suggest that maybe Howard forgot what he was told the night before? “Dishonest” is the correct word to use here.

c8to
2022 years ago

no, the negligent refers to the fact that he did not follow up with the ONA about the source of the ONA written advice. (scrafton suggested he do this)

the misleading equates with your dishonest.

in fact, i added a comment after that but it doesn’t seem to have been submitted. as i post on my site http://badanalysis.com/blog/archives/2004/08/thank_goodness.html

“furthermore, the phrase “I still have every reason to …” is:

c) a lie

howard did have scrafton’s reason to doubt that children were thrown overboard.”

this is all under the proviso that ken’s quoting of howard above is accurate.

c8to
2022 years ago

sorry, i see the confusion. i meant to say in the original:

howards actions were negligent and his comments were misleading.

Tim Lambert
2022 years ago

c8to, “dishonest” is not the same as “misleading”, since it is possible to be accidentally misleading. Howard was deliberately misleading.

We don’t know whether or not he followed up with the ONA, so “negligent” isn’t necessarily correct.

I would actually rather have a Prime Minister that finds out the truth and lies about it than one who is so insulated from the world by advisors that dare not tell him any bad news that he can’t find out the truth.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

I’d have to say that the discussions on this assume that Howard’s opponents were all squeaky clean, in a heated election campaign, when they were treating Howard and Ruddock as worse than child molesters over their stance on boat arrivals. For a sample of that we still have some commenters casting very shaky aspersions on the govt and the navy about SeivX victims today. Given the electrified election vitriol from both sides at the time, you’d have to say that Howard handled some surprise contradictory revelations over his erstwhile ONA beliefs, from Scrafton that evening, by releasing the video for public consumption the next day. Hardly the act of a lying fascist dictator, under the circumstances. Yes he might have been caught on the hop a bit by circumstances, but the voters did have the opportunity to view the controversial evidence for themselves, prior to the polls. Question is, should we expect any mere mortal to handle these circumstances any better? I really think some of you ought to put down your harps and climb down from your clouds.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

how do lot remain interested in one lie for so long? – as if anyone is going to chuck a child ‘overboard’ and if they do that means they must be in desperate and dire straits and in need of help – yes I am aware that it is exactly this that Howard is beating up – but seriously you lot you have never really believed that children were thrown off the side of a boat – the timing alone makes it a political expedient – not a humanitarian and manipulative crisis.

c8to
2022 years ago

no jen, youre right…

instead what happened was that they either got into boats that they knew would only make it into australian waters or they scuttled them when they got here…

so they didnt actually throw anyone overboard…

i agree with observa…not only that, those who think scrafton has a harp need to re-evaluate…

as i commented on another post, he didnt come out about this at the time because he had a mortgage to pay:

http://foxsports.news.com.au/olympics/story/0,9744,10466707-2,00.html

in fact, all the howard bashing is probably going to go overboard itself…

Jeremy
2022 years ago

I can’t believe that yobbo and others are seriously saying that it doesn’t matter if Howard blatantly lied to the Australian public just before an election campaign. Even if it was over something IMPORTANT, which was run as a crucial issue in the election.

Of COURSE it matters.

If we don’t punish politicians when caught lying, by KICKING THEM OUT, then we basically give them carte blanche to lie whenever they like. Bye bye accountability. Bye bye democracy. These people are at the top of our political tree. If we’re not going to hold them accountable when they lie to us, then they might as well be tyrants.

I can’t believe people are seriously arguing that it doesn’t matter if Howard’s been exposed as a foul liar.

Al Bundy
Al Bundy
2022 years ago

Jen, c8to… According to the CMI inquiry:

1.38 SIEV 7 was notable as a child was dropped overboard by a woman aboard. Those on the vessel also seemed to be aware of the return of SIEV 5 to Indonesia, the first boat to be so returned.
1.39 The boat had been intercepted by the HMAS Bunbury in the vicinity of Ashmore Island on the morning of 22 October. When a boarding party approached the vessel and attempted to give a ‘Notice to Master and Crew’ one man aboard the SIEV dived overboard. Another is reported to have held up a young girl and ‘threatened to throw this child over the side of the vessel’. The child appeared to be aged 4-5 years, and had a cast on one arm. She was noticeably distressed.

Also, consider this exchange:

Shackleton: “In terms of the modus operandi of gaining attention by creating activity which required very careful attention, both cases were the same. As was alleged for SIEV 4, and as occurred in SIEV 7, children were thrown over the side.”

Later, Brandis asked: “Is there, to your knowledge, a belief among the navy that events of this kind … were not an uncommon phenomenon?”

Shackleton: “If you are asking whether there is a belief that this is a common event, then I would have to say that that is probably the case.”

Brandis: “Among naval personnel?”

Shackleton: “Amongst those people involved in these operations, yes.

As Jen alluded to, desperate people do desperate things, so I don’t make any judgements about it. But let’s not pretend that Howard fabricated the idea of children overboard as a monstrous slur on the good name of asylum seekers.