Monday 17th of May 2021


Exciting, new and patchy, capturing the zeitgiest for the elites, at least (David Eastwood)

On balance I liked the book. Strong compelling arguments, well evidenced, got me in. But, a couple of flaws in the logic I reckon:

There seemed a bit of a tendency to play the man and not the ball. JWH certainly makes a convincing chief villain, but Australian politics has long been too cosy a duopoly and I'm sure it's fair to say that Labour are more than slightly complicit in trashing our democracy. I thought the stream of 'neo-liberal' bashing through the book was a bit mindless, and detracted from the main argument. It confused so-called economic agendas with social and political agendas to my mind, and ignored that the most public failings of the capitalist system in recent years have been human failures - venality of the pocket-lining variety exactly as was rife in socialist regimes of prior decades.

I put the book down after finishing it and thought to myself, 'will this change the world', or is it another introspective effort by the elites, for the elites? I sus

Judith Ireland's 'take' on Sydney launch ()

Sydney Uni media n' government student and freelance writer Judith Ireland - who recently did a SMH internship under MK's supervision - has a ripper take on the Sydney launch over at Vibewire. We particularly loved Judith's nod to some useful political anthropology. Here's a sample of her piece:

In 1961, the American political scientist Robert Dahl (no apparent relation to Roald) made the distinction between two kinds of people in democratic society. Most people, more interested in their daily existence than political decision making, fall into the first category of homo civicus or 'civic man'. In our super-busy, post-industrial world, different members of society specialise in different areas. Every voter may have been involved in the golden days of Ancient Greek democracy, but today we are happy to leave political decision making to the experts: the lobbyists, activists and politicians who make up the

Wonderful can I enjoy a book so much that makes me feel so disturbed?! (Catherine Burgess)

Congratulations. Never has a book made me feel so affirmed that my anger towards this current govt. is legitimate. As one of the 'mob' dismissed by John Howard after the march in Sydney I will be passing this book on to many of my peers and encouraging many more to purchase it. I have never put a bumper sticker on my car in my life but the Not Happy John! one has made it to the back of the car and will hopefully encourage many to visit this site and read the book.

Sparking debate (A Gallagher)

I picked up NHJ! at Sydney airport on a return trip to Perth recently, after hearing Tim Webster interview Margo on radio. Several chapters in, a nearby passenger enquired what I was reading, which sparked a debate about Australia's involvement in the invasion of Iraq, the complexities of war, human suffering, former leaders and what the future holds. The passenger believed Howard to be a decent leader, and that the western nations with their democratic free will can improve the quality of life for the fallen and for future generations. As simplistic as it sounds, I talked about the cycle of grief, despair, hatred and revenge a citizen (and a nation) must go through when they witness fellow humans blown to pieces.

My father served in World War II, an Uncle in Changi, a brother called up for Vietnam (thankfully the government changed and with it went conscription), and I work with a 30 year-old son of a Vietnam Vet receiving treatment for a physiological problem related to his

Ouch ()

Many thanks to reviewer David Eastwood for his criticisms. (See Review section for the full review). My bold in the extract below shows the bits that pushed my (Lefty's) buttons particularly deftly:

...a couple of flaws in the logic I reckon: There seemed a bit of a tendency to play the man and not the ball. JWH certainly makes a convincing chief villain, but Australian politics has long been too cosy a duopoly and I'm sure it's fair to say that Labor are more than slightly complicit in trashing our democracy....

Score one for the NHJ! sceptics, at least as it applies in my chapter. It can be a battle at times for those long-frustrated types among us who have serious - and imho valid - 'ishoos' (ahem) with the PM to keep in the forefront of our mind that the man isn't actually the root of all evil in the world. And especially that, on a heartfelt matter like refugees (say), the ALP has hardly covered itself in 'bleeding heart' glory over the la

Webdiarist, refugee advocate, peace monger (Marilyn Shepherd)

When Andrew Wilkie came to Adelaide at the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I asked him a question he said I would find the answer to in his book. He understood that I had participated in many of the debates on Webdiary - everything from SIEVX, refugees, the Bakhtyari children's terrible plight (still ongoing), Honest Politics and of course, the Iraqi invasion. It would be a foolish soul who accused me of holding back.

My question was 'did the intelligence over Bali, East Timor, the Solomons, New Guinea and WMD's fail due to an obsession with refugee boats and so-called people smuggling'. I found the answer on pages 49 and 50.

All those who think John Howard is more than Margo has described must read Wilkie's book next and then be afraid, very, very afraid for Australia, for our lost democracy, our lack of security and the blindness of the coalition of the killing.

Fourth generation Australian, grandson of a Gallipoli ANZAC thoroughly disgusted with where Howard has led this country. (Gary B

John Howard didn't just appear on the political stage in the 1990's. He has decades of form. His record alone on race issues should have been enough to convince any fair minded person that he was not fit to be an Australian Prime Minister. This is the man who Malcolm Fraser says, alone in the Fraser Cabinet, opposed asylum for Vietnamese boat people; who vehemently opposed sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa; who raised the issue of Asian immigration and condemned multiculturalism; who voted in the Parliament against a resolution congratulating the Holt Liberal Government for abandoning the White Australia policy and reaffirming that Australia's immigration program must not be based on race. How any educated person could have voted for this man in 1996 is beyond my comprehension. Thanks for doing something to expose the true John Howard to more Australians.

Not Happy, Joh.......n! ()

TIM MILFULL submitted this review/mini-profile from up in Brizzy, which we thought we'd publish here as a blog entry. Tim is a freelance writer and critic up that way who hones in on the link between the Joh years and the subsequent determination of many Queenslanders like MK, whose political consciousness was forged in those grim times, to keep a very close watch on Australia's democratic freedoms elsewhere as a result. Tim interviewed Margo for QUT's UTOPIA Magazine last week, and I think a review/profile will be running in an upcoming July issue. Thanks, Tim - hope you don't mind our corny title.

Not Happy, Joh.........n! by Tim Milfull

Sitting with journalist Margo Kingston a few weeks ago, I commented on the skyline of inner-city Brisbane and how, on the Joh Bjelke-Petersen scale of economic success, Queensland must be doing something right with all the cranes dipping and bobbing over constructions sites.

Absolute tripe (Rob Bruce)

Hysterical, overblown and completely unsubstantiated. At least the spirit of Webdiary lives on, hypocrisy and selective interpretation rules.

Good show Margo, true to form. Fleece the punters to line your pockets.

One breath of fresh air, many more needed! (Ray Miller)

Thanks Margo for putting your book together, it is a breath of fresh air amongst the stench of neo-liberal ideals that have the illusion of democracy while attacking the very democracy of OUR communities in which we live. Books by an Australian author Sharon Beder

Offer from NHJ! reader/webhoster ()

NHJ! reader Andrewd writes with an offer to NHJ! punters:

From: Andrewd:
Margo and co,

I loved the book. And yes, what is happening in Australia is sooo wrong. So what I would like to do/offer if possible is to offer some free web hosting to any individuals and groups that feel they have something to say.

Jack wrote: Andrew: Great stuff, and thanks. Will stick your email up today - just to confirm, is it OK if I just put up your contact email address, and advise interested types to contact you direct?

Andrew: No probs with giving out my email on the list, and they can contact me directly. As far as 'interested types', it would be good to give young journalists a go, but as long as they are prepared to use the hosting package and have something to say, I will set them up.

Also the hosting package is for 1 year.


Andrew D

NHJ! says: Interested types, drop Andrewd a

Side-stepping truth. Again. ()

So, it's two weeks since our book was released. We've been told, by Penguin and other reliable sources, that sales are going through the roof and people are going into bookshops demanding Margo's book. Thanks so much for all your support. Maybe we'll actually get a Mike Moore sales tally before we know it?!

As i said on Saturday, the Jewish News has avoided engaging the real issues in my chapter on Hanan Ashrawi and pro-Zionist lobbying in Australia. Over the weekend, Margo and I wrote a response to this, and it'll be appearing in this week's edition, out Thursday. If you want to see how Israel/Palestine is really covered in our media, check it out.

Now briefly, Iraq. With the so-called handover occurring last week in the war-ravaged country, we seem to be receiving mixed messages from our media outlets on the true nature of the country. The first appearance of Saddam last week was a momentous event, no question about it, but how much do we really know about what tran

Quick and honest review (S and J Daily)

Not bad Mango, indeed, very good.How-hard's legacy needs to be documented. Even if there are a few gaps. Guess that is the nature of getting a book up for publishing, quickly.You are not Mike Moore, as somebody said. (We live in Oz, don't we? Maybe he/she came onto wrong website...)

Prof. Flint's efforts to look after media diversity might have been mentioned - Aunty, like Fairfax, needs help too! All power to you for allowing some history to get out there, at this critical time. All the best.

Of What? The review or the state of the world? (Rossleigh Brisbane)

Milan Kundera wrote: 'The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory over forgetting.' I must state that I am - like Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Labor Party, Andrew Wilkie, Margo Kingston, Mick Kelty et al - not one of the good guys. So therefore I guess my opinion can be ignored in this 'Dirty Harry knew how to deal with criminals' world we now inhabit.

But thanks for including in the public record your experiences of how the 'Conservatives' are anything but. I fear that most of your book, however, is a bit too esoteric to cause marching in the streets.

It only takes a single thought to move the world... In NHJ, I found more than Single Drop of Water! You, Margo, Antony, Jack and

Do I dare disturb the universe? - T.S. Eliot

The difference between this time and other times is that this time in my life there is a way of voicing my disturbing opinions thanks to the most dangerous medium of all, the web. It is comforting to read all the reactions to the book and the ideas behind.

In a perfect world we'd get more books and websites like this one: judicious, eloquent, and animated by compelling ideas ...You prepared for this book launch like many would for a flood, many Central European bloggers are amazed how alert Australian political debate is at this election.

So be alarmed if you aren't reading Not Happy, John during the Antipodian election fever of 2004, you're missing out. (smile). Always more interested in policy than politics, NHJ serves both. Margo started Webdiary in order to compound the power of all those who believe in social justice, giving children a decent start in life, protecting the environment, and Australia working in coope

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