Monday 17th of May 2021


An independent challenger to Howard in Bennelong (Troy Rollo)

Like almost everybody here, I believe Howard should face a real challenge in his home seat of Bennelong. The problem is that there is no way Labor, the Democrats or the Greens can successfully do it. Bennelong votes Liberal. They have always voted Liberal, and there's no reason to expect they'll change this time. Even in the GST election he was comfortably re-elected after preferences - he has margin to burn. With the pollsters saying Iraq isn't even a vote changer, it's a pipe dream to expect enough Liberal voters to cross to the other side of politics and put Labor, the Democrats and the Greens ahead of Liberal in Bennelong. If this is where we put our efforts, Howard will win Bennelong as he always has.

That is in large part why I am running as an independent in Bennelong. I believe that enough Liberal voters would be willing to vote for an independent running on a platform of accountability to reduce Howard's vote in Bennelong be

Welcome passion in a barren landscape of political commentary (DAVID WRIGHT)

I read the book while on a plane to a conference in Ottawa. I finished it between Sydney & Honolulu. While in Canada and North America for only a few weeks I was surprised by the variety and sometimes the depth of critical commentary that is available. I read small publications primarily and remember in particular Mother Jones. There is little in Australia of this kind. This came to me very forcefully on my return.

Despite the often flippant Australian dismissal of American critical commentary it is alive and lucid over there in a way it is not in Australia. Passionate and committed political commentray is hard to find in Australia. This book is a welcome exception. Alan Ramsey's columns in the SMH are often another. There are few others.

There is no longer a Nation Review or any other equivalent small publication that is well written and prepared to state the obvious - that our political fortunes have been hijacked by big business; that our political leaders are co

More people power in the Senate - no Ministers please! (Brian Austen)

Having read and been reinspired by your book, I want to make some considered comment in due course. (I retired from active politics just a few years age to recuperate after more than 20 years battling; so I find much with which to agree in your book.) For now I'd like to offer an idea I have had for some time about a small change which would have a big result and contribute toward restoring some of the behaviours we used to witness.

But first, your book makes strong reference to the value of the Senate as it is currently constituted, ie not controlled by either Liberal or Labor. It wasn't always so and I think significant credit should be given to the Australian Democrats for continuing to still be there despite the odds and the opposition from all sides and much of the media. It is the Democrats persistent existence which has finally ensured that so many people now recognise that only a Senate not dominated by the major parties stands against a total takeover of unfettered G

Action plan - grassrooots letter box drops? (John Dalton)

You may be interested in the following website: info, an existing effort to organise a grassroots letterbox campaign. My long term vision is an online resource to allow anyone to coordinate a letterbox drop in a distributed manner (a letterbox version of petitiononline). I'm happy for others to take over the concept if they can make faster progress.

Margo: Great idea!

Encouraged, despite myself (David Hall)

Thank you for your vigorous


Some weeks ago I came up with a democratic method to remove Howard at the next election. I understand that the tactic has never been used before in an Australian election, and also that it is entirely legal. Subsequently I have read Not Happy John, and whilst I do not have the means of executing the plan you may well be able to cause it to be acted upon through your contacts.

The selection of the candidate and his/her upfront declaration is essential, as you'll see!

I prefer to remain in the background at this time, however I can say that nothing in this document or about me in anyway violates/conflicts with your Webdiary charter. Just call me a pissed off traditional liberal voter. I am a practising lawyer. I can be, and would appreciate being, contacted on this hotmail address.

Why a 'Digger's Oath'? Maybe it's too cute, but it's the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade, and the oath is 'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand by each other and f

Despondence turned to hope... (Terry Murphy)

As an avid Web Diary reader and sometime (unpublished) contributor to Web Diary discussion, I waited with bated breath to get hold of a copy of NHJ. It was almost everything I expected, yet left me with a discouraging sense of powerlessness - the 'actions' at the end seemed so small to throw against such a huge problem.

But reading these reviews and the comments on the actions page does provide hope. It is empowering to discover that I am one of thousands(?) who are upset at what has happened to our country.

Idea - Develop a list of questions to be addressed to all candidates at the election (Terry Murphy)

So much of NHJ is about Howard's subversion of the parliamentary standards of accountability. I would like to propose that a list of questions addressing prospective responses to those issues be addressed to all candidates and their responses published.

For instance, 'What steps will you/your party take, if elected, to restore the convention of Ministerial responsibility?' and 'What steps will you/your party take, if elected, to depoliticise the Commonwealth Public Service?' and so on.

NHJ (AL): Terry, this is a really good idea. If pollies feel like they actually have to answer to their constituents, they may actually feel more confident in shifting from the party line. We've seen this recently with the government's shift in refugee policy. It's far from enough, but reports suggest that a number of Liberal backbenchers, due to concerns in their electorate, were quietly pressuring Cabinet and Howard to soften policy.

If Terry puts together a list of poss

A must MUST read! (Brendan Clarke)

I've just finished NHJ in less than 24 hours. Thank you Margo for writing this book because although I found it quite depressing and disturbing, I realise that it's not too late to save our country and our democracy, I think like a lot of Australians, I'd almost forgotten that it is OUR country. I will be making sure that as many people as possible read this very important book.

Mainstream press wakes up ()

With nearly one month since the release of NHJ, and the book still riding high in the Top Five of the national non-fiction chart, the mainstream press appears to be finally waking up to this best-seller. The Herald profiled Margo last Saturday and a review is supposedly pending.

The Age reviewed NHJ last Saturday. Written by Katherine Wilson, co-editor of the literary journal, Overland, there is no link available, but below are some highlights:

'The book's strength is that it investigates those in power through the lens of liberal democratic ideals rather than any ideological prism.'

'...Kingston gives a breadth of detail not available in the mainstream media, and a fascinating insider's perspective of the ways Howard and his minders reward compliant journalists and stonewall inquisitive ones.'

'NHJ will appeal to general readers of any political stripe, especially those who see themselves as moderates. Yet while it emphatically distances itself from

Disappointing: Goes nowhere does nothing and is hardly 'left' (Ben Woods)

I couldn't finish this book and I usually push through ALL books. I noticed another reviewer remark that the book does not address what the Howard government has done to education and health. Indeed, and I'm sorry any talk of the worth of Menzies and Paul Keating can hardly come from someone with genuinely left-wing views. The problem with all this is that Australia will hardly change greatly under Latham (another globalisation apologist), I hope he gets in and, 'one thing at a time' and all that, but the world ( yes not just us little patriotic Australians ) will not become a more democratic place until the power of corporations is severly restricted and more power truly is with the people. The ideas do not flow too well either, perhaps the book was put together quickly? The last Australian non-fiction work I read was Clive Hamilton's book 'Growth Fetish'. In my view this book presents more ideas for real progress than 'Not Happy John'.

Bullshit does baffle brains if you let it happen (Rod Power)

My son gave me your book for my 54th birthday on 12.7.04. It was a great present as I have not been able to put it down. However, I am only up to the final chapters where you talk about the attack on NGO's.

Your book is a credit to your profession and to you. Unlike the likes of Piers Ackerman, Andrew Bolt, Paul Kelly, Malcom Farr etc., you do your job. You are not sickening as no one pulls your strings, like the others. I do not read the 'Tele' or the Australian. The SMH is the way to go as long as it has writers like you and my favourite, Alan Ramsay. Betcha he could write a book or two.

There seemed to be a void in facts to highlight the wrongs of this government. The ALP has finally got some guts with Mark Latham. He is hamstrung by the fact that most Australians are bored by politics and get most of their info from the 'bloody Tele' or the papers owned by Murdoch.

They do not know how a our democracy should work - Howard is not going to tell them. Few know

Sales Figures? (Rodney Sewell)

Short question: How's the book selling? Regards and thanks for keeping the home fires of democracy burning.

NHJ! (JR): Figures are difficult to peg precisely at this early stage, Rod, but the short answer is: very well. MK's still highish on most bestseller lists as of this weekend, with, for example, Dymocks inhouse sales tally recording NHJ! at number four (non-fiction), and Neilson Bookscan (the industry-wide marker) putting it at number five on the non-fiction list and number thirteen overall. Penguin's done at least two reprints so far, and while accurate sales take a while to be confirmed, with I think somewhere between twenty and twenty five thousand copies now in print and many outlets reportedly 'out of stock', it's fair to conclude even at this stage that the book has found a remarkably solid audience. We'll keep everyone updated as more definite numbers come in.

Idea - Local Electorate scrutiny committees? (Douglas Winn)

I am an active self-funded retiree like others fed up with the sort of events you have portrayed. We got tired of hearing, 'What can we do about it'. You have to start somewhere.

We feel that every sitting member of the government needs to be accountable to a non-party local electorate committee which constantly monitors his/her performance and gives feedback as to voters' feelings. We feel he should regard us as the boss, not the prime minister. We feel the average government pollie is just there to distribute funds in his electorate in response to every request in the expectation that they will vote for him next time. Our bloke boasts of distributing $29 million since elected less than 3 years ago. Is this various grant money from assorted federal and state departmental accounts? Could it possibly be a local slush fund budgeted by the government specifically for his purpose, in the guise of meeting local electorate needs?

Pollies seem only to reflect back to

It's only natural. (Michael Ray)

Nearly finished reading the book. Congrats, Margo. Disturbing. Yes, but also enlightening. I had one of those cathartic explosions by the time I hit the end of the Pauline Hanson section - and I'm by no means a Hansonite. It's all about information.

Begin with faith in people and then add full disclosure and access to information, and it would seem impossible to have any government but a fully and naturally democratic one grow from that happy circumstance. Or am I being naive?

People aren't stupid but they are self-interested. I know I am - self interested, not stupid. And it's self-interest surely that democracy relies upon. In a good way; the good kind of self-interest. I make decisions that will be good for me and mine, and if enough of us make the same decision, we become the democratic majority and society veers onto that course. And if it didn't and our elected representatives weren't being responsive to our decisions, we'd know because, in my fantasy, the informati

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