the pirate ship Parliament
involving concrete and defence installations go back a long way in Australia.
If you take the trip all the way down Anzac Parade to La Perouse you
end up at a bare windswept promontary which looks out over the entrance
to Botany Bay and across a narrow wooden bridge you'll find Bare Island
was built as part of an elaborate scheme recommended by a pair of British
military boffins, Jervis and Scratchley, who came to Australia in 1870
as consultants in colonial defence. They wrote a report which recommended
a series of forts to defend the entrances to the main harbours on the
east coast from raids by hostile powers.
Island was fortified soon after, but there was a problem: the contractor
supplied substandard concrete and much of the fort had to be rebuilt.
The Chief Colonial Architect's career never recovered, the foreign pirates
never came and the place ended up as a home for retired artillerymen
and eventually a national park.
remembered this as the Warren Entsch scandal sailed into the news and
McCosker Engineering, another contractor on the RAAF's Weipa base, claimed
that Entsch's company had supplied $175,000 worth of concrete that wasn't
up to the job after a quick phone call from an RAAF flight sergeant
with the likely name of Jones.
was the sort of shonky tendering that would sink the career of any public
servant outside the RAAF or even the Navy's submarine procurement department
but John Howard just shrugged his shoulders.
it didn't stop with concrete, as the week wore on. A Japanese investor
in Entsch's north Queensland cattle station, Mr Kunio Yanagida, cheerfully
told ABC News that his friend Warren was very helpful in the day to
day management of the place.
spin-doctors gibbered wildly in their broken English to anybody from
the media who would listen. Yanagida was just a simple confused foreigner
who didn't savvy the lingo, they said, and smart-arse journalists had
put words in his mouth.
called the critics "sewer rats" and clowned around with his
pet macaw which was, according to reliable sources, trained to talk
by Joh Bjelke-Peterson and screeches things like "feed the chooks"
and "I'm, I'm doing, something, something good for Queensland ...
yes, and ... and ... you, you southern socialists ... you ... you're
not going to stop us ... Don't you worry about that! ... No my goodness
gracious ... I'll eat the whole box of bikkies".
is it about the Howard Government? Are these people totally illiterate
and completely scatty the sort of dingbats who couldn't run a
chook raffle in country pub or are are they just greedheads full of
hubris? Is there anything they wouldn't do for an extra dollar? What
part of "no" don't they understand?
often said that we pay politicians top dollar to buy the best and to
keep them honest, to remove the temptation to keep their trotters in
the trough of private 'enterprise'. If that's the case, how come the
course of parliamentary democracy is so regularly interrupted by these
conflict of interest scandals? How come politicians are so regularly
caught abusing their lavish travel allowances? How is it that so many
of them regularly 'forget' that they hold positions as directors or
secretaries of companies, or that they hold shares in companies the
government does business with? How much money do they really want? What
would satisfy them?
truth is that if they aren't comfortably well off before they're elected
(and most politicians are) they become so the moment they're elected
... but that doesn't seem to satisfy lots of them and the problem isn't
going away. If it isn't Warren Entsch's hardware shop it's questions
about Paul Keating's piggery.
it must break Gerard Henderson's heart.