Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Not happy, John

The slogan borrowed from the new book of the same name by journalist Margo Kingston.

John Valder's alarm whistle effort 'let love be thy weapon' indeed, [war criminal], Prime Minister John Howard is also the subject of a stinging attack in a Sunday feature this week, from the man who first engineered his ascent to the Liberal leadership in the mid-1980s former party president John Valder.

Valder accuses Howard of being 'the principal villain' in damaging the Liberal Party by taking it progressively to the far right over his years in power. He describes him as autocratic to the point of being a tyrant and says he has destroyed the tradition of democracy in the Liberal Party. Graham Davis reports on the man who's launched a 'Not happy, John' campaign in a bid to unseat the PM ...


JOHN VALDER (IN STREET): My name is John Valder, I've been around a long time.

GRAHAM DAVIS: He's the grand, old man of the Liberal Party, its former federal president, someone who engineered John Howard's rise to power. Yet now, John Valder has turned on the Prime Minister and is doing all he can to remove him not just from the Lodge, but from the Sydney seat he's held for 30 years.

JOHN VALDER (IN STREET): In the parliamentary party, if Howard lost his seat, I think there'd be a big sigh of relief 'cause they've all been under his thumb.

GRAHAM DAVIS: Valder is conducting a 'Not happy, John' campaign in Howard's electorate of Bennelong - the slogan borrowed from the new book of the same name by journalist Margo Kingston. Today, he's in Eastwood Mall in the most vulnerable part of the Prime Minister's seat, now significantly Asian, and which returns a Labor member to the NSW Parliament in the form of Police Minister John Watkins.

WOMAN: Life is difficult.

GRAHAM DAVIS: The message here from this old-fashioned Tory grandee is to put Howard last on the ballot paper come election day and bring his long reign to a grinding halt.

JOHN VALDER (IN STREET): We're critical of John Howard, so we're on your side, we're on your side. My view has been the Government looks like it'd be returned. The only way of getting rid of Howard is in his own seat.

GRAHAM DAVIS: In Bennelong?

JOHN VALDER: In Bennelong, so we're focusing all our attention and all our resources on Bennelong. Now I know ...

GRAHAM DAVIS: So the ship sails on, but if you get your way, without the captain.

JOHN VALDER: That's exactly it.

GRAHAM DAVIS: Why on earth would a former president of the Liberal Party do something that's so damaging to the Party's prospects at the next election?

JOHN VALDER: For the very simple reason that we think John Howard has done something very damaging to the Liberal Party over the last 10 years. He has just steadily and progressively moved the party further and further to the right and a lot of us feel he has stolen the party from us.

GRAHAM DAVIS: Any way you look at this, because you were federal president of the Liberal Party, you're a turncoat, you're a traitor.

JOHN VALDER: No, no, John Howard is the turncoat and the traitor. He has taken the party away from people.

GRAHAM DAVIS: But this is a movement that's also spreading, for flanking Valder are two other Liberal defectors - Barrister Neil Francey, who's standing against Health Minister Tony Abbott in Manly Warringah, and teacher Ross Slade, who's tackling Attorney-General Philip Ruddock in Berowra.

GRAHAM DAVIS: Are we going to have Not Happy Phil, Not Happy Tony?

JOHN VALDER: I think we are, and not happy Alexander in Adelaide.

GRAHAM DAVIS: It will be, he says, a concerted campaign against the Gang of Four he accuses of having seized control of the Liberal Party and wrenched it to the far right.

GRAHAM DAVIS: So we're talking here about not only the Prime Minister, but his Foreign Minister, his Health Minister and his Attorney-General?

JOHN VALDER: I think they're considered to be the principal villains, ah, Howard, Downer, Ruddock and Tony Abbott. We only went public two weeks ago and we've had a wonderful response.

GRAHAM DAVIS: John Valder has already made an initial campaign outlay of $20,000 from his own considerable fortune as a former broker and chairman of the Sydney Stock Exchange. His call for extra finance and manpower is already producing dividends, like Renata Kaldor, doyenne of Sydney networkers, former deputy chancellor of Sydney University, former director of SOCOG and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

RENATA KALDOR: I would ideally like to have a Liberal government without John Howard as the leader. If you're asking me the lesser of two evils, if I had my choice, I've got to say, after a lot of thought, I would prefer to have a Labor Party in power, at least for three years, and I think probably perhaps be enough. I think the damage perhaps that a Latham government would - would do to the country economically, to my mind, wouldn't be quite as harmful as the damage to the social fabric that's happened under the John Howard leadership.

GRAHAM DAVIS: And the Valder campaign is also drawing on the expertise of the man who devised Labor's celebrated "It's Time" campaign that swept Gough Whitlam to power in 1972.

GRAHAM DAVIS: OK, is it time now?

PETER SHENSTONE, FORMER MARKET RESEARCH DIRECTOR: Well, the interesting thing with the campaign slogan that we're using now, Not Happy John, is that it's another one of those phrases that allows people to project onto it whatever it is they're not happy with.

GRAHAM DAVIS: It's your recommendation that they use this, isn't it?


GRAHAM DAVIS: But whatever damage John Valder inflicts on the Prime Minister come election day, he's dramatically stepping up his assault today with a series of extraordinary statements on John Howard's leadership from the man who did more than most to get him to the top.

JOHN VALDER: Who would ever have thought that this harmless, supposedly harmless, suburban solicitor would be wielding such power today, over the party, over the public service, over the intelligence organisation, over all those government bodies to which he's appointed his own mates? He is, in my opinion, the most powerful prime minister in, certainly in my day, and my day's fairly long.

Including Menzies?

Including Menzies. I was a young reporter, believe it or not, during the Menzies' era.

And Howard is more powerful than him?

Well, in a more subtle sort of way. He's got this grip everywhere it counts. But, I wouldn't dare use these words on your program, but other people say he's as devious and deceptive as they come.

Devious, deceptive?

Yep. And ...

A tyrant?

Yes, I mean I hear people using words like "dictator". Now when did the word "dictator" last get used in the Australian political vocabulary?

Well, do you think John Howard's a dictator?

I would use the word autocratic - is a gentler word I think.

Right. So he's an autocrat?

Who is destroying the democracy within the Liberal Party.

It wasn't always so, for in the mid-1980s, John Valder - as president of the Liberal Party - was plotting on John Howard's behalf against the then parliamentary leader, Andrew Peacock.

You were Howard's chief backer, weren't you?


You presumably thought at the time that John Howard would make a better PM than Andrew Peacock, correct?

Oh, I did, I did, yeah.

And you helped him to beat him, didn't you?

And particularly after Andrew Peacock started attacking me, I certainly thought John Howard would be a better prime minister.

He is constantly dividing our party and I'm fed up with it and I think most Liberals are. If he's got something to say to me he can call me up or come and see me but generally he hasn't got the guts to do it.

Well, he certainly attacked you, didn't he, full frontal?

Well, he did attack me full frontal.

Well, do you now regret that you backed Howard and not Peacock?

Yes. There's no question - Andrew Peacock will be astounded to hear me say this, but you've made me think about it for a few seconds - I think the answer is yes, he would not have damaged the party, because Peacock would have been much more moderate. But 20 years late, I might have to say Andrew Peacock, all is forgiven.

Well, you are saying it today, aren't you?


But that, of course, is history and even John Valder concedes John Howard's electoral record speaks for itself.

John Howard has been a very successful - but he's a very successful politician and that's about where it begins and ends. To call John Howard a statesman or a visionary is outrageous. I mean he's not, but he is as cleverer a politician as there's probably ever been in Australian politics. He, having basked in the "honest John" bit, is now having to live with the tarnished image of being a bit of a grubby prime minister.

Well, do you think he's a grubby prime minister?

Well, I hesitate to use that word myself and yet, it's hard to - it's hard to say no. I think anybody who's behaved like that over Tampa, over his position on Iraq, all of these things put together, right through to his treatment of the detainees, the way he falls at the feet of George Bush again and again and again, I do think make a lot of people consider him to be a grubby PM.

And there's the war in Iraq and John Valder's startling call for the Prime Minister to be tried for war crimes.

It is outrageous. If killing or maiming and injuring hundreds of thousands of innocent people isn't a crime, I don't know what a crime is.

GRAHAM DAVIS: But today, the former Liberal president goes further, accusing Howard of posing as a monarchist prime minister while behaving like a republican president.

People greatly resent that he's usurped the role of the Governor- General to the point where most of us don't even know the Governor-General's name. Those ceremonial-type things are meant to be the role of the Governor-General, but this very ambitious prime minister grabs these things for himself, thinking the photo opportunity will enhance his reputation.

And even life after Howard, when the time comes, won't be what he's led them to believe.

I hear a lot of people say that, you know, he's really wanting to keep the seat warm for Tony Abbott and that he keeps Peter Costello at arm's length until the time when Peter Costello says, "I'm sick of this, I'm off, I'm going back to the law or to lead a normal life", and I suspect that's what John Howard really wants to happen, is to hold that seat long enough for Peter Costello to say, "Sorry, chaps, I'm off". I think there would be a terrible split in the Liberal Party.

But to sink the knife in one last time himself, John Valder makes yet another extraordinary claim - that so far to the right has John Howard taken the Liberals that he now fears a violent reprisal from the Party's more ardent supporters among the Young Liberals.

It could take things as extreme of people like myself being roughed up, which I think is, in modern politics, the dirt units get out ...

When you say roughed up, you mean physically?


What, you're worried about being physically attacked?

I am now, in 2004, fearful and people have said, "Watch out, your tyre car tyres will be slashed", and "You'll get bricks through your window".

They're quite capable of physically assaulting an old man like you?

Well, I sincerely hope not, but roughed up means jostled and so on.

Young Liberals?

Yeah, this is all part of the Liberal Party's move to the right which is what I suppose fundamentally we're on about.

By Graham Davis posted August 17 04 

Howard's war crimes, Turnbull, at least he's honest

HIGH-profile Liberal candidate Malcolm Turnbull has told voters the Iraq invasion was "an unadulterated error".

Alexanda Downer guilty of war crimes!

The agreement for going to war on Iraq carried with it and incentive and that was free trade with the US. The Howard Government knew about it and went along with it with the US under the guise of Iraq's WMDs. In criminal law this is commonly know as collusion to commit a crime.

John Howard's war crimes blameworthy

General Peter Gration is the spokesman for a group of 43 ex-military leaders, diplomats and departmental heads who have criticised the Government, saying involvement in Iraq has put Australia at greater risk of a terrorist attack.
Senate passes FTA deal amid US lies

The legislation for Australia's Free Raid Agreement (FRA) with the United States has passed the Senate, along with Labor's amendments.


Aide reveals children overboard advice
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Children Overboard Affair: Howard 'unfit to lead'
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'Refugees and Indigenous People in John Howard's Australia' Politician - Senator Aden Ridgeway, the only Indigenous Federal parliamentarian, visits Villawood immigration detention centre and is a vocal critic of current refugee and Indigenous policy. Senator Ridgeway will discuss the proposed abolition of ATSIC as well as current refugee and Indigenous policy changes being fought for by the Australian Democrats. Advocate.

Howard's war crimes, Turnbull, at least he's honest
HIGH-profile Liberal candidate Malcolm Turnbull has told voters the Iraq invasion was "an unadulterated error".

Alexanda Downer guilty of war crimes!
The agreement for going to war on Iraq carried with it and incentive and that was free trade with the US. The Howard Government knew about it and went along with it with the US under the guise of Iraq's WMDs. In criminal law this is commonly know as collusion to commit a crime.

John Howard's war crimes blameworthy
General Peter Gration is the spokesman for a group of 43 ex-military leaders, diplomats and departmental heads who have criticised the Government, saying involvement in Iraq has put Australia at greater risk of a terrorist attack.

Human Rights Watch slams Iraq war attacks
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Genocide and Torture in Iraq: Justice in the balance?
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Auditor Generals damning war report
The Defence Department computer system upgrade has cost Australia tens of millions of dollars in a gigantic bungle, according to the Federal Opposition. The Commonwealth auditor-general has issued a damning report into the project.

Truck drivers working for US face death: resistance
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Ancient Babylon ruined by foreign troops: Iraqi minister
Iraq: Foreign forces in Iraq have caused severe damage to the site of ancient Babylon, one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, and need to leave the area as soon as possible, Iraq's Culture Minister Mofeed al-Jazaeri said.

UK report propaganda
Damaged basic services, cover up of key intelligence and prisoner abuse........They got that right but they got the remedy of the report wrong. Sure as hell they're using this as serious "propaganda".

Iraqis accuse British troops of war crimes.........
British troops committed "war crimes" in post-war Iraq, unlawfully killing civilians and beating and torturing prisoners in their custody, lawyers for the victims have alleged. Soldiers played cruel "games" with prisoners, forcing them to recite lists of English or Dutch footballers and beating them if they failed, Phil Shiner, a British lawyer leading six test cases in the High Court this week, said.

Fifteen "resistance" killed in Iraq shootout
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US:Military Draft expected
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US accused of butting into Australian election
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Saddam trial US propaganda
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US liars warn against 'fortress Australia'
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George Bush never looked into Nick's eyes
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Spain demands 'radical change' in Iraq strategy
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Police surround protesters outside US Embassy
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David Burchell: Paradox of anti-Americanism
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Pilger said White House knew Saddam was no threat
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US disturbed over 'biased' reporting in Arab media! But the US lies to the world! How could anyone describe pre-emptive strikes on a sovereign nation, occupation, genocide, torture, and human rights abuse by the Coalition of the Killing in a positive light?

Coalition force 'surprised' by stiff resistance for food aid
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Explosions rock Baghdad, jets overhead Iraq
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The Australian Federal Opposition and Labor Party Leader, Simon Crean, has again warned the U.S. ambassador to stop meddling in Australian politics.

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Mandela speaks out against Bush, Blair
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Pleas for peace ring the globe
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Not too late for Iraq peace, Blix says
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George Bush's other poodle
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