errror orism Ter ism
P - plates
ictoria’ ia’ss Secr Secret Victor ia’ et
2/11/2005, 2:07 PM 1 Cover_for print.p65
2/10/2005, 4:10 PM
Australia’s new cur rent affairs magazine
INVESTIGATE BREAKING NEWS
THE GLADIATORS Every day brings another headline calling for more government regulation after a P-plater wrecks his car. But are more laws the way to make drivers safer? PAUL HAM looks behind the rhetoric to find the real story
VICTORIA’S SECRET Drivers in Victoria are used to getting dinged by out-ofwhack speed cameras. But now, reports Investigate editor JAMES MORROW, the state government is pushing ahead with a controversial roadside drug testing program that promises high costs and dubious results
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED You know him as the man who keeps Australia in the black. But what does PETER COSTELLO think about faith, family, and whether we pay too much tax? Investigate sat down with the Commonwealth Treasurer to find out
MULLAHS, GUNS AND MONEY “A journalist has just been shot dead by rebels in the Philippines!” An editor’s heart stops: was it our reporter? We sent MATTHEW THOMPSON & KATE GERAGHTY into an al Qa’ida stronghold that’s closer to Darwin than Darwin is to Sydney to find out just how dangerous a neighbourhood we live in
THE SECRET OF HER SUCCESS Karen Matthews is one of Australia’s youngest - and most successful - CEOs. JAMES MORROW looks at how she turned skin care company Ella Baché into one of Australia’s hottest beauty brands
Cover: NICK LEARY
2/11/2005, 2:03 PM
2/11/2005, 2:03 PM
EDITORIAL AND OPINION
1 issue 1 ISSN 1832-2794
Chief Executive Officer Heidi Wishart Group Managing Editor Ian Wishart Customer Services Debbie Marcroft Editor James Morrow Advertising Director Jamie Benjamin Kaye Books Alice McCormick Health Claire Morrow Movies Shelly Horton Science Pat Sheil Sport Jake Ryan Technology Paul Wright Contributing Writers Alan Anderson, Miranda Devine, Luke Slattery, Matt Hayden, Matthew Thompson, Paul Ham, Adrian Neylan, Michael Morrissey, Ann Coulter, Eli Jameson
6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24
Focal Point Contributors Freeze Frame The Arena Simply Devine Spin City Right Hook Left Hook Tough Questions First Draft
Contributing Photographers/Agencies KRT, ZUMA, FOTOPRESS, Kate Geraghty, Nick Leary, Ian Barry, Ian Wishart, James Morrow
Welcome to Investigate The people behind the bylines The month that was James Morrow asks ‘Was Iraq worth it?’ Miranda Devine on Julia’s childlessness & the ALP Alan Anderson on John Howard’s last term Ann Coulter on the abortion debate Luke Slattery explains why he is not a racist Ian Wishart on the fraud in The DaVinci Code Matt Hayden takes a satirical dig at Kim Beazley
Design & Layout Bozidar Jokanovic Art Direction Heidi Wishart Investigate Magazine PO Box 602 Bondi Junction Sydney NSW 1355 AUSTRALIA Editorial Tel/Fax: + 61 2 9389 7608 Letters: email@example.com Advertising Tel: 0401 313313 Fax 1800 123 983 NZ office Tel: +64 9 373 3676 Fax: +64 9 373 3667 Investigate Magazine PO Box 302-188 North Harbour Auckland 1310 NEW ZEALAND
Subscriptions Online: www.investigatemagazine.com By Phone: Australia 1 800 123 983 NZ 09 373 3676 By Post: To the respective PO Boxes Current Special Price: Save 40%A$57.60 Email firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org All content in this magazine is copyright, and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. The opinions of advertisers or contributors are not necessarily those of the magazine, and no liability is accepted. We take no responsibility for unsolicited material sent to us. Please enclose a stamped, SAE envelope. Inquiries in the first instance should be made via email or fax. Investigate magazine is published by Investigate Publishing Pty Ltd ABN 99 111 095 786 PO Box 602 Bondi Junction NSW 1355 AUSTRALIA
64 68 70 72 74 76 78 82 88 90 92 96
Money Toybox Technology Science Health Food Travel Books Movies Music Sport Diary of a Cabby
James Morrow on the coming interest rate hike High-tech goodies from the cutting edge Paul Wright checks out go-anywhere broadband Pat Sheil reveals the new race for the moon Claire Morrow looks at ecstasy and terminal illness TV meals - why can’t we produce a decent TV chef? Visit Mauritius, an unknown ocean jewel Alice McCormick on Dave Eggers, and more Shelly Horton looks at all the latest releases Nick Cave’s still got what it takes Jake Ryan on the downside of being a good sport Adrian Neylan survives a cabload of cokeheads
NEXT ISSUE ON SALE WEDNESDAY, 30 MARCH
2/11/2005, 2:03 PM
2/11/2005, 2:03 PM
2/11/2005, 2:03 PM
INSIDE BACK COVER.p65
2/10/2005, 4:16 PM
OUTSICE BACK COVER.p65
2/10/2005, 4:25 PM
EDITORIAL Finding out the real story
o just what is going on in the Philippines? It seems like every day, the wire services bring news of another kidnapping, another bombing, another killing, all linked to an Islamic insurgency in the country’s south. Some days it seems like that northern neighbour of ours is turning into a tropical Iraq – albeit with a longer democratic tradition – but until now no one has really put all the pieces together. To solve this problem, we sent journalist Matthew Thompson to the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, and what he discovered hiding in plain sight shocked us – as it should every Australian. Not only are the jungles on this island the home to terrorist training camps where Jemaah Islaamiyah, the perpetrators of the Bali atrocity, trained, but politics and phony peace deals are Instead of making political hay letting the bad guys out of penalizing our young hide in plain sight. Closer to home, like men, we should instead work you, we have been to embrace and channel their shocked to read the energy into something positive almost-daily headlines reporting on the loss of young lives in car crashes. Too much horsepower, the depressingly familiar storylines go, combined with not enough sense and a need to impress are causing tragedy after tragedy. Newspapers and politicians have been quick to act, suggesting all manner of reforms of our driving laws, but as our Paul Ham discovered, short of raising the minimum driving age to 25, there is little that laws can do to change this behaviour. Instead of making political hay out of penalizing our young men, he found, we should instead work to embrace and channel their energy into something positive.
6, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
These are just a couple of the stories we felt compelled to check out and report on for this, the first issue of Investigate magazine to be published in Australia. In the coming pages you will also find an interview with Commonwealth Treasurer Peter Costello, the man most likely to take over the reins for John Howard. Just what does drive our next prime minister? I sat down for a chat with him in his Sydney offices and found that this man of numbers is really a man of faith and family – even though he doesn’t even like the term “social capital,” which he has done so much to promote. But Investigate isn’t just about policy and politics. Karen Matthews, CEO of Ella Baché (and one of Australia’s youngest chief executives) shares the secrets of her success. And science editor Pat Sheil has discovered that, after staying away for more than three decades, man might finally be about to make a very profitable return to the moon (really). Investigate is the sum of all of its parts and much, much more. We are the magazine for people who like to think; for people whose busy lives are full of weekly publications that sit largely unread amid the time contraints of life. As you’ll see, we’re unique on the Australian market, we’re independent and we’re a magazine whose first loyalty is to our readers. Again, welcome to Investigate. I look forward to seeing you next month.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 7
CANNON FODDER Mentioned in dispatches
When Ian and Heidi Wishart began working on preliminary plans for this magazine in November 2003, the suggested launch date of early 2005 seemed an awful long time away. In between the monthly deadlines of a sister edition, the demands of a top-rating national evening talkradio show across the Tasman, looking after their six children and preparations to turn one of their publishing company’s books into a movie, Spooked, starring Cliff Curtis of Whale Rider and Runaway Jury, the Wisharts nonetheless pulled together a talented production team to make Australia’s new current affairs magazine a reality. Publishing group CEO Heidi: “It’s been one of our busier years, I’ll grant you that...”
When journalist Matthew Thompson first approached us to suggest a story on an al Qa’ida training camp in the Pacific, we thought he was asking for trouble. When he suggested trying to talk to the Islamic extremist organizations using it, we figured he was as mad as a snake. And when we heard that other journalists were being gunned down in the same area we assumed the story would become his obituary, not a feature. As you’ll see, he lived to tell the tale. Thompson is a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald. He contributed to Blaming Ourselves: September 11 and The Agony of the Left (Duffy & Snellgrove: 2002), and has written on boxing for the literary journal, HEAT.
8, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
The man responsible for Investigate’s look didn’t take up graphic design as his first career choice. Bozidar Jokanovic was a young student in Belgrade during the troubles, and just six months off completing a law degree, when he threw it all in and joined the staff of the city’s Demokratija newspaper. It was that decision which set him on a path that eventually led downunder. Of graphic design and its challenges, he says “There is always something seductive about putting the type and graphics together. And lots of coffee to keep you awake, though.” Bozidar is handling the design of both the NZ and Australian editions of Investigate.
Alice McCormick grew up around books – her mother, father and stepfather are all rare book dealers – so it’s no wonder the Sydney native has literature in her veins. “I love everything about books, from the way they are put together to the literature inside,” says McCormick, who runs her own dealership, McCormick Books in Potts Point, NSW. “From a business perspective, it’s really rewarding getting a great collection together, and seeing all the right titles next to each other on a shelf ”. Investigate’s book section is signficant, in keeping with the ethos of producing a reader’s magazine. Explains editor Morrow: “Some magazines only exist to sell you something. Our main focus is telling you something.”
Journalist and author Paul Ham (who got his own driver’s license in 1977, when P-plates lasted just a year) examines the phenomenon of reckless young male drivers and what to do about them in “The Gladiators”. Ham found that the root of the problem of young male drivers is not insufficient regulation - far from it - but a culture which has stopped trying to channel young mens’ natural risk-taking behaviour and turn it into something constructive. Ham is the Sydney correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and the author most recently of Kokoda, published by HarperCollins. He is currently at work on a book about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 9
FEELING PRETTY SNAGGY! Australians love their lamb (and their kids), but don’t need studies to prove it
ustralians returned from their long summer breaks to discover some things never change. For one thing, dolebludging hippies still have as tough a time finding their sense of humour as they do a job. The point was proven when Australia’s meat producers hired Sam Kekovich to deliver a tongue-incheek rant on the virtues of eating lamb on our national day. In ads for the lamb choppers, the former football star said (among other things) that, after all, the diggers weren’t fighting for tofu snags. “No. They were thinking of grabbing a lamb chop off the barbie with their bare fingers, sustaining third degree burns, then sticking their hands in a relieving esky to fish out a cold one,” adding that “soap-avoiding, pot-smoking hippie vegetarians might disagree with me, but they can get stuffed. They know the way to the airport, and if they don’t, I’ll show them.” Pot-smoking hippie vegetarians filed a vilification complaint with the Advertising Standards Board, which was quickly dismissed. ❖❖❖ Meanwhile, February continued to be the latest in a long line of cruelest months for Labor. Despite no longer being burdened with Mark Latham, the month
10, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
opened with news that the Terrigal Tourist Board spokesman was still costing the ALP support, with internal polls showing that even the sometimeSNAG’s old home seat of Werriwa could be vulnerable to a challenge by the Libs. As of press time, the Liberal Party was undecided over whether to run a challenger to Latham successor-elect and former union official (don’t any of these people have real jobs?) in an upcoming by-election. ❖❖❖ On the home front, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward has made another headline grab – this time by suggesting that the government needs to get more deeply involved in sensitizing blokes and making sure they enough time with their kids. Apparently, an unknown number of tax dollars must urgently be spent to figure out why the “traditional model of the man as breadwinner and woman as primary carer continues to shape our behaviour, in spite of the array of choices theoretically available”. In other words, women want to act on their maternal bond with their offspring, and men feel compelled to work hard to provide for their families. And this is mysterious how exactly? After all, Mark Latham could never stop showing how family-friendly he was, bringing his kids along to practically every press conference, and look how it wound up for him. ❖❖❖ Speaking of people doing what comes naturally, perhaps the best news on that front came from Iraq where, shortly after their national elections, residents of a mixed Sunni/Shi’ite village fought back against insurgents who came to punish them for voting. The score? Villagers 1, Terrorists 0. Locals not only chased off the democracy foes, but killed five of them and wounded eight more in the process. There’s nothing sensitive or new-agey about it, but let’s see more of this from Iraqi guys (and gals).
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 11
Australians should be proud of the role they played bringing democracy to Iraq
rom the moment John Howard committed troops to help the United States enforce the slew of U.N. resolutions violated by Saddam Hussein, Australians were told that they should feel badly about it. By focusing narrowly on the question of Saddam’s WMD programs (and by also conveniently forgetting his history of gassing Iranians and Kurds), anti-war groups were able to conveniently ignore the greater promise of ousting Saddam Hussein: not only would the overthrow of his sick and genocidal cult of personality give a measurably better life to Iraq’s citizens, but it would also have the knock-on effect of bringing political freedom to a region sorely in need of it. This willful ignorance came to an end on the 30th of January, a day which will be remembered as a defining moment of the first decade of the 21st Century. That was the day when ordiThe media’s reaction to nary Iraqis went to the polls to elect their own the election’s overwhelming government — and in success was every bit as the process defied arof Islamists, inamusing as the courage of mies surgents, Ba’ath party the Iraqis was touching holdouts, and much of the Western media, all of whom predicted that the exercise of democracy would cause bloodshed from one end of Mesopotamia to the other. In fact, the turnout was better than anyone could have expected, with early estimates pegging at somewhere around 72 per cent (much better than, say, an American or British national election). Sure, there was some grumbling, but so what if the Sunnis didn’t vote in huge numbers? The fact that a segment of the population which had for decades happily exercised tyranny of the minority got pouty and decided to pick 12, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
up their ball and go home should be of no consequence to the legitimacy of the overall election. As the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto pointed out, Afrikaners refusing to vote when blacks were given the franchise in South Africa didn’t cause reporters to heave heavy sighs and complain about the sudden illegitimacy of that country’s democracy. As Iraqis streamed out of polling places across the country, proudly waving their blue ink-stained index fingers indicating they had voted, it was fascinating to watch the story of their country change in the eyes of the Western media. For months on end, Australians had been subjected to a relentless barrage of stories about how, since the invasion, Iraq had spun wildly out of control and that (for reporters, at least) Baghdad was suddenly a place where leaving one’s hotel room to buy a pack of smokes was about as risky as poking your head above ground level in 1916 Verdun. Thus the media’s reaction to the election’s overwhelming success was every bit as amusing as the courage of the free Iraqis was touching. Remember that for months every bombing, every setback, and every act of brutality (especially if it was committed by a wayward American soldier) was front-page news, not just in Australia but around the world. And the message was subtle but clear: Iraq and the Iraqis were better off under Saddam, because at least then the state had a monopoly on killing and mayhem. Once the Americans came in, the chaos was privatized – a far worse state of affairs. But almost as soon as polls opened the story changed. If they didn’t exactly become cheerleaders for Iraqi democracy, the media managed to, if just for a day, agree that the voting was a good thing. International wire service Reuters, which since 9/11 has been notorious for throwing “scare quotes” around the word “terrorist” – lest anyone think the agency was taking sides – suddenly reported that “mil-
ZUMA lions of Iraqis flocked to vote in a historic election Sunday, defying insurgents who killed 25 people in bloody attacks aimed at wrecking the poll. Iraqis, some ululating with joy, others hiding their faces in fear, voted in much higher-than-expected numbers in their first multiparty election in half a century”. The New York Times got caught up in the excitement as well, declaring that “if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner”. And closer to home, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough admitted in his first dispatch after the election that “the ballot had prevailed over the bullets and the bombs”, and even conceded that “the provisional figures will be seen as a stunning victory for Washington’s policy of democratising the Middle East and will cause great anxiety among the region’s unelected leaders, who fear such an Iraqi outcome will spur demands for radical reform across the region”. This was an incredible (if temporary) about-face for McGeough, who has spent the last two years tipping an Iraqi civil war and once went so far as to run a story accusing interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of shooting six terrorist suspects at close range — a bit of unsubstantiated urban myth that allowed the correspondent to think aloud about “a return to the cold-blooded tactics of his predecessor”, i.e., Saddam. In standing up to the naysayers, and the terrorists, and those who suffer from that peculiar neocolonial racism of the Left which says that some people just aren’t cut out for democracy, ordinary Iraqis took a brave stand for their future. Not only did they send a message to their foes at home and abroad that they were not going to let freedom’s enemies win, but they also told Australians, Americans,
and everyone else involved in making 30 January possible that the life and treasure spent in Iraq were not in vain. As Iraqi weblogger Hammorabi put it the night before the election, Our voting is: No to the terrorists! No to the dictatorships! No to hate and racism! No to the fascists! No to the Nazis! No to the mentally retarded tyrants! No to the ossified, narrow-minded and intolerant! The Iraqis are voting in few hours time for the new Iraq. We are going to create our future by ourselves not by dictators. We are going to say: Yes for the freedom and democracy! Yes for the civilized Iraq! Yes for peace and prosperity! Yes for coexistence! Yes for the New Iraq! Let them bomb and kill us. It will not deter us! Let them send their dogs to suck our bones. We care not! Let them bark. It will not frighten us. Let them see how civilised to be free and democratic! Let them die by our vote tomorrow! It is the magic bullet which will kill them! Welcome New Iraq. Welcome freedom and democracy. Welcome peace and prosperity for all nations with out exception but terrorists! Amen to that. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 13
Kids are alright, but are they a requirement for leading the ALP?
n her brief flirtation with the top Labor job last month, the party’s most ambitious woman, Julia Gillard, discovered that some people think her status as a single, childless 43-year-old woman renders her “unelectable”. She also found that some people think her neat, sunlit kitchen in Melbourne’s western suburbs looks “lonely” and “lifeless”, code for spinsterish. “Single? Female? Childless? Was this really what Australians wanted in their alternative prime minister?” asked one newspaper. It’s not something she had considered before, she said in a phone call from Melbourne on Australia Day after announcing she would not run for the leadership. “That’s just my life.” But far from being an odd fish, Gillard spearheads a new and honourable tradition of powerful, unmarried childless women who are quietly heading for the top in their careers, The bonus for a society unencumbered by the which embraces such very real needs of children and the sometimes women is the extra unreasonable demands guilt-free attention they of a spouse. The 2005 Bureau of can lavish on their jobs Statistics yearbook shows the fastest-growing household type in Australia is a single person living alone. In the next 20 years, single people will comprise a third of all households, and not entirely because of an ageing population. Like a growing number of women, Gillard never set out to not get married or not have children, but says that is just the way her life turned out. “It’s an accumulation of the little decisions that brings you here.” And, like many single women, she just never met the right man, “if the definition of the right man is a relationship that endures forever ... Obviously I’ve had a series of relationships that mattered”. 14, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
Not that she’s intent on remaining single: “I wouldn’t preclude the thought of being in a strong relationship”. When she was a little girl people would ask her if she wanted to be a mother one day, and she would reply: “Oh no. I don’t think so”. “I never had a strong desire to have children”, she says. “But it was not a decision [based on any notion] children would prejudice my career.” Gillard is single again after splitting last year with her companion of two years, fellow Labor MP Craig Emerson. The new focus on her single status has led to “all sorts of peculiar offers”, she says, laughing about the men who yelled, at an Australia Day function in her western Melbourne electorate, “you look all right to me, love!” But she was stung by the criticism of her single status, which seems to have emanated from the ALP itself, as part of a campaign to undermine Kim Beazley’s rivals for the party leadership. “We can’t even blame the media for this; it’s her own colleagues that did it,” former Labor minister Susan Ryan told the ABC. “Now we’re back in the dark ages, where a woman’s marital status and whether she has children or not is being used against her by her own colleagues.” Gillard denied her colleagues were behind the whispers but she did feel compelled to compare herself with her ideological opposite, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. “Dr Rice is a single, childless black woman and she is the most powerful woman in the world,” Gillard told reporters, as the pressure against her mounted. Flipping sausages on a BBQ, she went further to justify her single status: “No one person can encapsulate everyone’s life experience. A man doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman, a person with children doesn’t know what it’s like to be a person without children, a
person from a wealthy background doesn’t know what it’s like to grow up on a housing estate.” Touché. She also points out she is part of a family, anyway: her “original family”, parents John and Moira, and older sister Alison, who live in Adelaide. Likeable and engaging, Gillard also has a tribe of close friends in Melbourne including Terry Bracks, wife of the Victorian Premier. When Mark Latham abruptly quit the Labor Leadership, she was on holiday in Cambodia and Vietnam with another friend. In any case, she says voters in her electorate don’t care about her marital status, as long as she does the job. On the other side of politics, 36-year-old Liberal Sophie Panopoulos, also ambitious, childless and unmarried (so far), weighed into the Gillard debate with her own tale of marital-status prejudice. “All of the Labor sisterhood in Canberra remained absolutely silent when the Labor candidate for Indi (in north-east Victoria) in the last election made the same allegations about me,” she told the ABC’s 7.30 Report. “[He said] I really wasn’t fit to be the member because I wasn’t married and didn’t have children.” But the allegations didn’t damage Panopoulos’s standing with the electorate. In fact, she won the seat by a margin of 21 percent and attracted almost six percent of Labor voters from her ostentatiously married-with-children rival. Few Australian politicians have made as big a deal of their family as Latham. There was the famous shot of him striding down a hallway with his mother and wife and two sons when he was first elected Labor leader. He invited cameras to his home during the election campaign to snap him on Father’s Day playing backyard cricket with his boys. Latham read storybooks to schoolchildren and did everything possible to portray himself as the quintessential family man. But did that make the electorate warm to him? Far from it. In the end, when Latham resigned, he cited a desire to devote himself to his family. From Latham’s experience, you might even infer that the
demands of being Labor leader with young children are too hard. Of course, Gillard could have married her handbag, just to conform. But why should she? Instead she has to contend with snide comments about her “unnaturally spotless” kitchen, in which she was photographed for the Sun-Herald recently. Sure, it might not be the schmick Calcutta marble kitchen of a yuppie Sydney couple with a subscription to Belle. But it is a practical kitchen, about what you might expect from a busy single professional person who had returned to work a week early from a holiday and hadn’t had time to buy apples for the fruit bowl. Successful single men rarely face such prejudice; and most don’t stay single for long, there being no shortage of women eager for rich-wife status. But it is trickier for a successful career woman to find a partner who doesn’t demand babies at an inconvenient time of her career, as movie star Brad Pitt supposedly did with Jennifer Aniston, for instance, or who doesn’t feel neglected by her success. Instead, increasing numbers of self-respecting women in their 30s and 40s are content to accept they may never marry or have children. They focus instead on their careers, and relationships with friends and “original family”. It’s not a lifestyle they chose, or one they imagined for themselves. But they are not lonely. They don’t feel they are settling for second best. They are just realistic. The bonus for a society which embraces such women is the extra guilt-free attention they can lavish on their jobs. Julia Gillard’s single, childless status is an electoral asset because it means she can work harder. Or, as a woman emailed me after a shorter version of this article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Julia and other single gals such as myself are an asset to any organisation because we are not going to p... off early from our responsibilities to collect little Charlotte or Joshua from daycare after another outbreak of conjunctivitis.” Ouch. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 15
John Howard has a long way to go to truly remake Australian society
resh from his fourth successive election victory, John Howard is politically ascendant. Learned commentators who only months ago were waxing lyrical about the visionary qualities of Mark Latham are now consigning Labor to the dustbin of history. The Coalition eagerly awaits its Senate majority in July. And Howard’s mate George W. Bush has handily won another four years in the White House. Australian conservatives might be forgiven a little triumphalism as they reflect on the past year. Yet there is still plenty to give the Right pause. For while Howard has won many battles, it is far from certain that he is winDissent amongst the so-called ning the war to really intellectuals in our universities transform Australian culture – or even that is akin to a power struggle he will fight it. Howard has been a between the Maoists and the champion of two Marxist-Leninists, with a few great political causes: post-modern onanists thrown a broad-based conin for good measure sumption tax and industrial relations reform. The former is a battle won. The latter has been partially implemented and will advance significantly once the Coalition’s Senate majority takes effect. What next? The answer is obvious to some. Led by Senator Mitch Fifield and Sophie Panopoulos MP, a vocal group of Liberal parliamentarians is challenging Howard to implement desperately needed reforms to the nation’s confiscatory income tax regime and its counterproductive welfare system. But Howard’s response has been to hose down expectations of change, cautioning that it’s “a question of striking the right balance”. Unless the PM’s 16, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
idea of balance is that we go halfsies with government, it is difficult to defend the status quo. After profligate campaign spending, it is frightening to imagine that projected surpluses of $24 billion over the next four years might fund further expansion of Australia’s bloated public sector. Of course, it’s possible that Howard’s moderate rhetoric conceals radical intentions. After all, Peter Costello’s last budget included a politically risky change to tax thresholds at the top end of the spectrum. But it is not just in economic policy that reform is in jeopardy. Australian conservatives have been beguiled by vast tracts of left-wing commentary bemoaning the Right’s victory in the “Culture Wars”. In the memorable words of the PM, “Hello? Hello?” But let’s check the other side of the ledger. Taxpayers continue to fund the arts and film industries which churn out politicised material like the disingenuous Rabbit Proof Fence and display a tedious conformity of views. The need for subsidy springs from the fact that only a handful of insiders want to view the art or watch the films. And surely the very idea of a panel of government-appointed commissars doling out cash to whomever satisfies their definition of “art” is anathema to alleged Liberal values. So what have nine years of conservative government achieved? Barring a handful of outcasts, dissent amongst the so-called intellectuals in our universities is akin to a power struggle between the Maoists and the MarxistLeninists, with a few post-modern onanists thrown in for good measure. Vindictive personal attacks on the likes of Keith Windschuttle are matched by the less-publicised persecution of students who dare to challenge the established orthodoxy, making a mockery of the Enlightenment values of free inquiry that universities are meant to celebrate.
J.H., PHONE HOME: Has the PM got what it takes to reconnect with his base? Judging by voting patterns, the socialist dinosaurs of academia are well to the left of the students they teach. A full-blown voucher system would introduce market forces to the sector and end their oligopoly. Yet the Government merely tinkers at the edges of the HECS system. So what have nine years of conservative government achieved? Our public broadcasters rival Cuba’s Granma in their anti-Americanism, while proudly declaring their domestic impartiality because they attack both major parties equally – from the left. John Howard’s appointments to the ABC include the entire current board, save for the staff rep. With the exception of former member Michael Kroger, every one of his appointees were captured by the institution, leading to the coup d’état against reformist managing director Jonathan Shier and his replacement with a lacklustre insider. So what have nine years of conservative government achieved? The half-hearted debate about values in schools has merely emphasised the continued domination of the teaching profession and education bureaucracy by moral and cultural relativists who see their job as indoctrinating the young with fashionable multi-culti
FOTOPRESS pietie, from which quaint pursuits such as grammar and arithmetic are an unwelcome distraction. Here the government has made a tiny step in the right direction, with the introduction of an experimental voucher system to enable failing students to seek help from the private sector. But it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back. The Government is introducing a national curriculum which will doubtless be corrupted by the education bureaucrats. Even if, by some miracle, it is not, the centralised system will eliminate competition between states and pave the way for the next Labor government to implement Carmen Lawrence’s dream of an education system that indoctrinates children into communism – sorry, social justice. Again, what have nine years of conservative government achieved? Conservative electoral success masks an underlying failure to win key battles over the size of government and the politicised nature of key public institutions. If he is to reverse this failure in his fourth term, John Howard will need to embrace measures more radical than he has shown the stomach for thus far. If he does not, his much-vaunted reshaping of Australian society will prove as ephemeral as a sandcastle built at low tide. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 17
Abortion is too important an issue to be left to judges
aybe he really is an idiot. On the 32nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade recently – I was going to say “birthday of Roe v. Wade,” but that would be too grimly ironic even for me – President Bush told a pro-life rally in Washington that a “culture of life cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We need, most of all, to change hearts.” Actually, the “changing hearts” portion of the abortion debate is over. We’re now entering the “minds” portion of the “hearts and minds” journey on abortion. We’ve been talking about abortion for 32 years. All the hearts that can be changed have been changed. By some estimates, 35 million human hearts (and counting) have been I’ve never heard of “changed” by abortion in anyone who thinks America alone. Judging by her comabortion should not be ments calling abortion a “available” to save the “sad, even tragic choice,” even changed Hillary life of the mother we’ve Clinton’s heart. Hillary went so far as to say she had “respect” for those who believe that “there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available.” I’ve never heard of anyone who thinks abortion should not be “available” to save the life of the mother. If Hillary “respects” even this (nonexistent) lunatic fringe of the pro-life movement, she must adore me! If, right now, pro-lifers had already succeeded in changing the hearts of every last person in America – including Hillary Clinton! – abortion would still be legal in every state of the union. It’s a “constitutional right” – taking its place alongside all those other “sad,” “tragic” rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, 18, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
such as religious expression, free speech, freedom of assembly and so on. Who was it who said, “Free speech should be safe, legal and rare”? Abortion was not terribly popular when Roe v. Wade was first concocted in 1973 – by seven male justices and their mostly male law clerks. We know it wasn’t popular with actual Americans back then because 46 states had outlawed it in a once-common procedure known as “representative democracy.” Reflect on the fact that among the things more popular than abortion back thenf were white-guy afros, limegreen leisure suits and earth shoes. In a Los Angeles Times poll a few years ago, 57 percent of respondents said they believed abortion was “murder.” Seventy-two percent of women and 58 percent of men said they thought abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. (Among men currently listed on NBA rosters, the figure was even lower.) Note that men in the poll were more supportive of abortion than women, which is perfectly in keeping with the pro-abortion orthodoxy that men should have no say in this matter, unless they’re saying “yes, dear.” Once again, NARAL and I are in agreement! It’s a “woman’s issue”; could you men please just butt out? Feminists try to make people feel guilty about opposing a “woman’s right” to abortion,but in fact men always support abortion more than women – no matter who takes the poll or how the questions are asked. Until Roe is overturned, telling pro-lifers they need to be “changing hearts” is like telling the New England Patriots they need to practice more – while never, ever letting them play in the Super Bowl. We’ve been changing hearts for 32 years – I think we’re ready for the big match now. I think Americans would support massive restrictions on abortion. And NARAL agrees with me! How about it, liberals? Prove me wrong! Let Americans vote. Universal Press Syndicate
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 19
Freedom of speech? Sure – just don’t mention the war
am not a racist. In fact, I’m something of a sensitive multi-culturalist: the more complex the cultural stew, the better. But a vile bigot I may turn out to be if, in the eyes of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, I’m found guilty of “repeated racial vilification” for dissing, of all people, Germans. The accusations have been levelled by a GermanAustralian in a document that as hysterical as it is histrionic. Yet the commission regards it as grave enough to have written me demanding a response and threatening sanctions. And so I find myself in a free-speech trial. The complainant asserts that I’ve maligned the German people by uttering “extremely disturbing and racially offensive remarks” in How have we come to the several articles written point where a writer risks for the Weekend Australian magazine. drawing down upon himself Now, I’m enough of the weight of the Racial a sensitive centre-leftie believe in the notion Discrimination Act by quot- to of racial vilification as ing a 1938 article about the embodied in the Racial rise of the Hitler machine? Discrimination Act. On the other hand, I’m enough of a realist to want the law’s purview restricted to races (not nations) that may be tangibly harmed by acts of repeated vilification and manifest “hatred”. As I write these words, a copy of the HREOC complaint lies open on my desk. It includes three photocopies of the offending articles, incendiary passages underlined. The first contains the line: “The Germans have always had the gift of killing to music.” I wrote this on May 29, 2004. Or, rather, I cited it. The line is a quotation by the Austrian writer-journalist Joseph Roth in a 1938 essay in which he warned of “the political terror that Hitler contrives to exert over his 20, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
European colleagues”. The beauty of Roth’s “killing to music” phrase is that it goes to the paradox of National Socialism: how does the Nazi killing machine sit with the culture of Bach and Mozart, heir to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment? I’d defend his use of it in this historical context, and my re-use of it in the same context, a thousand times. How have we come to the point where a writer risks drawing down upon himself the weight of the Racial Discrimination Act by quoting a 1938 article about the rise of the Hitler machine? The questions raised by Roth in this taut and elegant phrase will plague mankind for eternity. And yet the Canberra bureaucracy appears sympathetic to the view that they should not be uttered in public. The other claims in the dispatch from HREOC are based on overheated and neurotic misreadings of my articles, including one in which I refer to “German shame” in the context of a war cemetery. This is the problem with any discussion of Germany’s behaviour during the war. Hitler was voted into office by 37 per cent of the population and his plans were carried out with alacrity by many ordinary Germans, as illustrated by Daniel Goldhagen in his book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners. A nation, a race, a people were involved both explicitly and tacitly in the Nazi machine. The historical facts lead one to consider a degree of collective German shame: to do otherwise is to not have the discussion. Recently I had reason to write again about Joseph Roth as I was reviewing a collection of his journalism (1925-39). Roth was a fierce opponent of Hitler and his writing foreshadowed the disaster. I found myself drawn to his reflections on Germany and the Germans of his time (reflections that draw on the memories of World War One and of Prussian militarism). I stalked them warily, and moved on. I had been bullied, finally, into self-censorship.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 21
IAN WISHART Been sucked in by The Da Vinci Code yet?
long time ago, in a lifetime far, far away, I bought a book called The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail. Hundreds of people queued at my city’s biggest bookshop to obtain the first copies of what was billed as the biggest blow to Christianity in 2000 years. That book made its authors millions. It took off around the world, all because of its highly controversial allegations – that Jesus Christ did not die on the Cross, but slipped away and secretly married Mary Magdalene before escaping to France and having babies. The essence of Gnosticism is at the heart of the story was that the Grail” of the New Age movement today, “Holy ancient repute was not, and both The Holy Blood & The in fact, the chalice from Holy Grail, and The Da Vinci Code which Christ gave the disciples Communare nothing more than extended ion, but that the real advertisements for Gnosticism “Grail” was in fact “Sang Real”, or Sang Royale – the royal bloodline of Christ as the authors perceived the story. According to their “exposé”, a vast network of coconspirators had worked through the ages to protect the descendants of Jesus – still living in France – and that protection included the Knights Templar and a mysterious monastic organisation named the Priory of Zion which allegedly continues to this day. Except, as all good adventure story readers know, ripping good yarns like this one are generally a crock, and this one in particular was the Mother of all Crocks. Seems poor old Dan Brown, the author of the bestselling Da Vinci Code, fell for it though. Brown’s book has spent more than a year sucking people’s money from their own pockets and into his 22, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
like a Hoovermatic vacuum cleaner. Brown himself has earned somewhere in the region of $30 million from it to date. So what are his central claims? Well, he draws heavily on The Holy Blood for inspiration, and has one of his central characters, fictional historian Leigh Teabing, fire a supposed bullseye shot at Christianity in this exchange: Teabing says to an eager young acolyte, “The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book… “More than eighty gospels were considered for the New Testament, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John among them.” “Who chose which gospels to include?” Sophie asked. “Aha!” Teabing burst in with enthusiasm. “The fundamental irony of Christianity! The Bible, as we know it today, was collated by the Pagan Roman emperor, Constantine the Great!” First rule of pulp fiction: never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Let’s examine the illustrious Teabing’s assertion. What he’s really saying is that by way of some grand Roman political conspiracy, the New Testament Gospels we have today are the ones that suited the Roman Empire’s purposes, and that the vast bulk of “gospels” about Jesus were deliberately left out. Ergo, every poor deluded creature who’s ever entered a church and sung a hymn through the ages has been the victim of a Roman hoax, kept alive through the centuries by church and governmental authorities desirous of retaining power over the peasantry by giving them some spiritual opium. Karl Marx had pretty much the same view. If true, then Christians everywhere have good reason to be concerned about the rationality of their faith. But it’s not true.
Firstly, many of the references to so-called ancient records in The Da Vinci Code are false. Author Dan Brown’s direct claim, via the mouth of his character Teabing, about there being “eighty” suppressed gospels is simply a blatant untruth. You’d be hard pressed to find eighty bits of paper from 2,000 years ago, let alone eighty gospels. Quite simply, as any recognised university professor can confirm, there were never “eighty” alternative gospels in existence. At most, there were perhaps a dozen or two, ranked in a sliding scale of 1 to 10 in terms of authenticity and credibility. The top four are the Gospels we have today, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The reason they are at the top of the list is that they were written as early as ten years after the death of Christ. Liberal scholar Dr John A. T. Robinson – no friend of fundamentalists – believes the old view that the Gospels were written up to a hundred years after Jesus died is utterly false, and that the earliest of the Gospels was written and circulating as early as 40 AD. Those four gospels, and Paul’s letters, had already been meticulously copied dozens of times by hand and sent to Christian communities around the Mediterranean by the end of the first century, and by the end of the second century AD there were hundreds of copies of our New Testament in existence and daily use. Archaeologists and historians have found numerous letters and sermons, dating from as early as 90 AD, quoting the Gospels and other New Testament books. Those same documents also show the rival alternative “gospels”, such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Philip, didn’t appear on the scene until around 140 AD and were not accepted by Christians at the time as genuine. Early Christians regarded those “gospels” as frauds, and so should we. For The Da Vinci Code to claim that the Catholic Church and a Roman Emperor had any power, by the time they met in 325 AD, to suddenly reinvent the Bible without anyone knowing is so ludicrous it makes the Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory look utterly sensible. The 325 AD meeting with Constantine was no more than a rubber-stamping exercise that formally recognised what hundreds of thousands of Christians already knew – the four Gospels, Acts and the Epistles were the true and inspired New Testament given to Christians by God. The first Christians – those people who had seen Jesus alive, watched his crucifixion and witnessed the Resurrection – welcomed the four Gospels as authentic and truthful. The reason the four Gospels were revered by the first Christians is because they were written either directly by Jesus’ apostles (Matthew and John), or by assistants to the apostles (Mark and Luke). Unlike the much later alternative “gospels”, the top four read like historical narratives with acute attention to detail. Contrast Luke’s writing with later fictitious gospels featuring such additions as a “talking cross” that walked out of the tomb behind Jesus on the morning of his resurrection before, presumably, both he and the talking cross dashed off for coffee somewhere. As a point of fact, nearly every one of the alternative “gospels” was created by followers of the religion “Gnosticism” which maintains that real spiritual truth can only be obtained by secret knowledge passed from Master to Initiate. Gnosticism was working frantically to counter the rapidly growing Christian faith, and it tried to do so by hijacking orthodox Christian gospels and re-writing them in accordance with its own beliefs. Gnosticism is at the heart of the New Age movement today, and both The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail, and The Da Vinci Code are nothing more than extended advertisements for Gnosticism.
Which brings me to Big Claim No. 2 in The Da Vinci Code: The character Teabing refers to the Council of Nicea, which was that aforementioned gathering of bishops in the year 325, and he claims: “At this gathering…many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon – the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of the sacraments, and of course, the divinity of Jesus” “I don’t follow. His divinity?” “My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet…a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.” “Not the Son of God?” “Right,” Teabing said, “Jesus’ establishment as the Son of God was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicea.” “Hold on. You’re saying that Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?” “A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added. While the above passage would certainly find some supporters out there in I-read-Dan-Brown land, you truly would have to be extremely gullible to believe it. It is, again, a blatant fiction. Did Jesus Christ claim to be God in the Gospels? Repeatedly. Take John 10:25-33: “Jesus answered... ‘I and my Father are one’,” at which point a Jewish crowd tried to stone him to death for blasphemy. At John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’.” Think about that statement for a moment. Worded very strangely, isn’t it? Unless of course you are indeed the immortal God who created Time and exists outside Time in an eternal Now. Under those circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Jesus to refer to himself existing before Abraham two thousand years earlier, and to refer to himself in the eternal present tense as “I AM”. Makes even more sense when you go back to Exodus 3:14 and discover that God introduced himself to Moses as “I AM”. And while Exodus records the first commandment as “Thou shalt have no other Gods but me” on pain of death, the New Testament shows Jesus clearly saying he is God, using God’s divine name for himself and, at Matthew 8:2, John 9:35-39 and elsewhere, accepting worship from people – something only God was permitted to do. Now of course anyone can claim to be God. Our psych units are full of delusional people who claim to be God. And Jesus was confronted with skeptics as the Bible records in Mark 2:9-12 when Jesus met a man paralysed from birth. He tells the man his sins are forgiven, prompting a gasp from the crowd who remind him only God has the power to forgive sins. So Jesus then asks the crowd which is the easier – to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “rise and walk”? According to one biblical scholar commenting on this little dilemma, it is “an unanswerable question. The statements are equally simple to pronounce; but to say either, with accompanying performance, requires divine power. “An imposter, of course, in seeking to avoid detection, would find the former easier. Jesus proceeded to heal the illness that men might know he had authority to deal with its cause.” So it is abundantly clear all through the New Testament that Jesus both claimed to be God, and performed miracles to prove his claim. He accepted worship as if he were God. And writings from Roman imperial records around 100 AD show people “singing hymns to Christ, as if to a God”. For Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code to claim that Jesus was never regarded as God before 325 AD is just an outright crock. Yes, it’ll sell books. But then again a fool and their money are soon parted. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 23
Somehow this draft e-mail from Kim Beazley made it into our in-box…
From: Kimster2008@aol.com To: <Undisclosed Recipients> Subject: Proposed new tactical directions - and thanks! Dear men and women of Labor, Thank you for re-electing me as Leader. I am both proud and excited - not to mention extremely flushed. Flushed with confidence. Flushed with enthusiasm. Flushed with anticipation! It’s a great feeling; a feeling that I hope to share. Come the next election I hope and pray that we are all flushed together! And I am confident we will be. Certainly, victory is possible, but not until after some significant changes have taken place. The first thing we need to do is re-unite as a party. How can we unify the country if we can’t unify ourselves? You will no doubt recall that I recently told you all to just “put a sock in it”. I reiterate that sentiment in this memo - but this time with a qualification; a qualification that I’d like to delineate: As distinct from the Liberal Party, which has a very top-down culture, we are the party of debate and consensus. This is a tradition we simply must not discard. So, the figurative sock I am thinking of is not, say, a thick, wooly, footy sock, which, when placed in the oral cavity would completely stifle any attempted vocalizations. It could be more of a lightweight tennis sock - or even one of those elastic shin-huggers - a sock that, although achieving the required effect most of the time, would still allow certain vital phrases to be expressed - and consequently heard - if need be. Speaking of verbal matters: I am well aware that my peripatetic thought processes and meandering syntax have been a problem in the past. But no longer! From this point on I make this commitment, both to you and the people of Australia: No more prolixity. As we all know, prolixity or even a general loquaciousness - is a curse for a politician (or any public figure, for that matter) in this age of sound-bites and fleeting images. In the final analysis, what’s the point of taking a hundred words to say something when only five will do? Just as I must reinvent myself, so must we all. Apropos of this, we must constantly push into new areas. We need to cease going over old ground. We must quit with the endless post-mortems. We simply have to stop repeating ourselves. (And we must also do away with the negativity. Negativity never, ever works. It ultimately leads to low morale. And the last thing we need is low morale. Particularly not now. Really, just the thought of it fills me with dread...) But enough of that! We must stop being obsessed with the past. We must become obsessed with the future, and how we can get there. We must act. And the first step in the process of acting is to agree - and agree unanimously - that I am the party Leader; that I make the decisions; that I articulate our direction. (Of course, I’ll contribute to this process by listening to all constructive criticism, and going with any good suggestions you might have.) Needless to say the most important sub-step of this step is to put the bickering behind us. (And on the subject of behinds: We must avoid any such obsession with that part of the anatomy in our rhetoric. These will no doubt remind the electorate of my predecessor’s unfortunate fixation thereupon, and his ultimately disastrous reign. So, no more references to posteriors, or the osculation thereof. It will be the kiss of death.) So, in summary: We must be combative, but not thuggish. We must be unified, but not undemocratic. And we must stop trying to have it both ways. Thank you. And go get ‘em, fighters! Yours sincerely, Kim Beazley 24, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 25
The GLA DIATOR S Every weekend they assemble in suburbs and downtowns across Australia, and every weekend they make headlines when things go wrong. They’re young, male drivers with souped-up cars, and they have become the latest subject of a media morality crusade. But will tightening laws and taking away the keys solve the problem of kids and cars? PAUL HAM says no – especially when youth auto fatalities are hitting all-time lows, criminalizing young men just for being who they are is not the answer he nannyish, knee-jerk campaign by the New South Wales government and Sydney’s Daily Telegraph to introduce new laws for P-plate drivers to stop them killing themselves is not only a bleak manifestation of the infantile element in modern Australian political thought, but a sad symptom of a society that fails to grasp the fact that laws will not stop young men from doing blindingly stupid, terrifyingly dangerous, or amazingly heroic things. The problem is – as the sad case of Emile Dousset and other young drivers’ shows – laws cannot stop the intrinsic anarchy of youth. The experience of history, which we seem to be in the process of rapidly forgetting, teaches that adults need to channel the male instincts, rather than throttle them with laws, if we are to have any hope of generating something worthwhile from our sons. Strict schooling, parental discipline and national service were once the traditional conduits for controlling the errant young male. None is likely to return. The relentless surge of progressive education, which has destroyed a generation of young people’s minds, marches on. The reintroduction of national service is clearly unlikely – it would be electoral suicide, and too expensive. And there is barely a flicker of life in the old family punishment regime – crushed by the anti-spanking campaign and other lobbies that criminalize or
26, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
socially stigmatise any form of effective parental child discipline. So politicians have spotted a vote winning opportunity: we’ll do the job of the parents. Encouraged by the supine complicity – or, in the weird case of the Daily Telegraph, a cheerleading press – the Australian political class has seen fit to barge into our homes and tell our children how to behave without ever asking us. “If parents can’t control their kids, we’ll have to do it for them,” runs the thinking; cue the busy bodies in government, who are parking their tanks on the parental patch with bossy impunity. And yet the politician who demands parental as well as political power is a tiny symptom of a profound delusion in the western body politic: Governments actually think they can play mum or dad in outlawing the oldest, most creative and destructive urge in the human species, namely, a young man’s propensity to behave recklessly. In this process, parents have become the mere finger-wagging appendages of a society that increasingly relies on the crudest form of dissuasion: the law. The punishment of our kiddies is being appropriated by state legislators who cynically applaud the introduction of laws to control youth because they suppose them to be “voter friendly”. Hence the
“In other words, young men like showing off to their mates…what an extraordinary thing”
FOTOPRESS March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 27
proposed shiny new proposals for curbs on P-Plate drivers, which turbing story here: in impregnating a child, the 33-year old Homer go hand-in hand with our mania for age limits, anti-spanking laws, was manifestly guilty at the very least of carnal knowledge – and anti-drinking laws, anti-smoking laws, bicycle helmet laws, and pro- possibly child abuse – a more insidious force in society than reckless driving. Few saw fit to remark on this rather unfortunate fact; one hibitions of all kinds of behaviours perceived to be dangerous. In this light the tragic case of Emile Dousset is instructive. His report nauseously praised the girl’s courage in rising to the challenge father Graeme is, by all accounts, a responsible, decent man who of pregnancy at so young an age. (Even as the Telegraph was studimade it very clear to his son that the Nissan Skyline R34 GTR parked ously ignoring the details of Homer and Schyf ’s relationship, it still in the garage – a machine powered by a 2.6-litre, six-cylinder engine managed to run – with a straight face – a story about a 37-year-old man accused of bedding a 15-yearwith a top speed of 251km/h – old girl he met online. The headwas off limits. Graeme repeatedly line? “Jailed for preying on girl.”) warned Emile that the car was not The punishment of our kiddies But back to Emile. Perhaps in an to be driven; he tried to educate his is being appropriated by state effort to impress his passengers, he son about the dangers of speeding, and the importance of legislators who cynically applaud sped to a residential street popular amongst rev-heads. He then accelresponsible driving. the introduction of laws to conerated to somewhere between 180 Emile listened, but disobeyed his and 200 km/h, struck a dip in the father, and set aside his dad’s reatrol youth because they suppose road, went airborne for 40m, and soned appeal to good sense – the them to be “voter friendly smashed into a telegraph pole. flight of any ordinary young man’s Stunned residents emerged from desire for a thrill. One night, last November, while his father was overseas, Emile took the vehicle their homes to find the dead bodies of Emile and Carl flung on the out for a spin in the town of Wyoming, NSW, where a 50km/h nature strip; trapped in the split car was Natasha, who died with her limit applies. The P-plater drove first to a service station and picked unborn baby (whom she’d named William). Emile has become another tragic statistic in the supposed “epiup two passengers, Carl Homer, 33, and Natasha Schyf, Homer’s pregnant 15-year old girlfriend. Both were impressed by the gleam- demic” of P-plate road victims. His case fed the portrayal of male youth of today as, at the very least, disobedient and reckless. ing vehicle, and curious to see how young Emile would handle it. At worst, if the government and the media are correct, a spawn of At this point it is worth interceding to remark on the manner in which virtually every commentator chose to ignore the really dis- half-formed, testosterone-fuelled yahoos are at this very moment
28, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
FOTOPRESS rampaging across our fair land, smashing up their dads’ cars and their lives in brazen high-speed rallies; drinking themselves legless; or drugging themselves to the hilt. That impression is plain wrong, of course; in the midst of the media hysteria over the epidemic of teen driver deaths came news that, rather than spiking skywards, fatal accidents involving P-plate drivers have fallen to their lowest levels in history, falling 30 percent from 1992 to 2002. And it’s not just young drivers who are getting safer: NSW closed 2004 with the lowest number of road fatalities overall since 1949, with a total of 522 deaths. To put these numbers it in context, NSW Health estimates that roughly a dozen times that figure die in the state every year due to smoking. ut the NSW government is not put off, and is instead trying to legislate against stupidity. For example, young people must now stay on their P-plates three times longer now than their parents were: they progress from L plates to red beginners’ P plates to a P2 licence (green P plate) before they get their full licence – a three-year
process, involving several tough hazard perception tests. No wonder P-plate drivers are in the spotlight for road accidents. If that regime doesn’t work, what will? But the government wants to extend the regime, and Roads Minister Carl Scully has drawn up a paper of options to reduce Pplate driver fatalities: they include a proposed ban on fast or dangerous cars and raising the age limit for licence-holders. To be fair, even as he pursued this course, he recognized an insurmountable problem: only by banning cars will crashes be avoided, said a helpless Scully spokesman last November. Never mind that this doomed experiment will be ignored: no self-respecting young larrikin will care much about a distant government bureaucrat droning on about the “P-Plate driver menace”; a curb on young drivers may even encourage speedsters onto the roads. In earlier times, fathers were proud of the motive, if not the occasionally disastrous consequences, behind any healthy young son’s desire to show-off, or embrace dangerous situations. It is a biological inevitability. That is why young men volunteer for war: they, unlike women or older men,
have an idea of themselves as bullet-proof. In a word, many young men reckon they’re unbreakable. But this fact seems beyond the realm of comprehension of the legions of precious counselors, bossy journalists, government busy-bodies and tut-tutting feminists who are wheeled out with weary inevitability to bemoan the “youth of today” and their predilection to do very dangerous things every time a young person is killed or hurt. If Lord Byron had lived today, no doubt swimming the Hellespont by “Club-footed Persons” would have been banned soon after he drowned. Sadly for the cosy modern world of health inspectors and safety first, the dashing young man who defies order and authority to express his peculiarly male urge to be the fastest or the strongest or a hero will always be with us – if in a suppressed or warped form. That’s because we live in an age in which the female is in the ascendant, and manhood is seen as something awkward, smelly, yobbish or plain embarrassing. The male virtues of courage, mateship, loyalty and door-die heroism are either dead, or dying, stamped out by a fusillade of laws, restricMarch 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 29
tions, codes and feminist-driven contempt. Indeed, this blokish larrikinism is regularly portrayed as a kind of mental illness and something to be ashamed of; the “male” in us is not quite “human”, rather something abnormal, even bestial. Men are inured to being presented as the buffoon or the idiot in endless films and TV shows; they seem to have swallowed the nonsense that they’re less intelligent than women. Melbourne psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg reckons young males “do not have the neurological wiring that gives girls pause to think,” as he told journalist Kate Legge in the Australian recently. Having accepted this as a self-evident truth, Legge added: “This biological handicap is exacerbated by a lethal mixture of sloppy parenting and unprecedented commercial and peer pressure”. It is worth weighing the meaning behind this extraordinary statement: young men are no longer merely stupid or loutish; they are actually biologically inferior to girls. “New research” or “experts” say so. But surely a biological handicap must be qualified in terms of its effect on human behaviour? If the male “biological handicap” only results in rev-heads crashing their cars, or picking fights, then perhaps it is a handicap; if, however the male “handicap” produces young men willing to sacrifice their lives for their country at a time of war; or rush in fearlessly to save the life of someone in danger; or embark on daunting expeditions of discovery, then surely it is a gift? Today’s society denies young men that accolade. They are simply mentally-challenged louts. One wonders how the nation would respond if we were invaded (as we nearly were in 1942) – perhaps we’d introduce a new law banning war? etting aside the absurd claim that the “commercial and peer pressure” on boys of today is “unprecedented” (e.g., how does one calculate this new precedent?), Carr-Gregg’s fundamental concern is that parents seem surprised when their boys misbehave: “I sit in my office gobsmacked at tales not out of place at a Roman orgy,” he observes. “Parents don’t seem to have a clue. One couple allowed their teenage son free range at home while they went to Noosa. He had a party. The house was trashed and the parents were astonished. These are intelligent professional people.” Yet Carr-Gregg contradicts this admirable portrait of the modern young man’s party-organising abilities by claiming that today’s generation of boys “is the most vulnerable…we have ever seen”. On the one hand the little darlings are holding Roman orgies, the next they’re the vulnerable victims of a conspiracy of bad parenting, bad schools and ferocious marketing that “short-circuit”, in Legge’s phrase, a boy’s path to manhood. In response, Carr-Gregg and legions of other psychologists, most of the media, and even feminist-mums are pressing for a return to
30, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
more authoritarian styles of parenting and schooling. (Though, tellingly, they draw the line at anything possibly effective – like corporal punishment. They want carrots without sticks; they plead for the imposition of discipline without any disciplining force.) But their plea, however welcome, is a little late. One groans wearily at this belated recognition of the failure of thirty years of progressive “liberal” education, whose seeds lay in the barren soil of the 1960s baby boomer era. It is now awfully clear that a child will not find his or her “inner creativity” without some instruction in the method of expressing it: i.e. lessons in grammar, ordered thinking, reason, logic, the rules of syntax etc. Another fascinating reversal for these New Authoritarians is that they now acknowledge “gender difference”. “Risk-taking behaviour is unquestionably a gender issue on Australian roads,” writes Kate Legge, for example. “Young men have been found to score significantly higher than females when tested for impulsiveness and sensation-seeking,” she adds. And research by Peter Palamara of the University of Western Australia’s Injury Research Centre has found that young men are more likely to engage in risky driving when carrying a same-aged, same gender passenger. In other words, young men like showing off to their mates…what an extraordinary thing. This identification of “gender difference” is an intriguing break with the past: throughout the 1970s, feminists were telling us that there is no such thing as gender difference. Men and women were the same, at least psychologically. (No wonder so many women burnt their bras in that wretched era, the high watermark of idiocy, during which the greatest insight of feminism was that “manhood” was a cultural phenomenon imposed on children; a little girl would naturally choose Ken over Barbie if only she was given the chance. Any parent knew – and knows - this to be utter rubbish.) One consolation from the wreckage of the past – and of poor young Emile - is that at least many people are talking a similar language. Many people seem to have noticed that men and women are, er, different; and most people seem to agree that the progressive education and parenting models of the last 20-30 years have failed to produce well-adjusted young men. This seems an auspicious place to begin finding ways to channel male recklessness, aggression and risk-taking into something constructive.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 31
VICTORIA’S SECRET Why is the Bracks government sticking with a world-first roadside drug test that’s controversial, expensive, and will make Victorian motorists only marginally safer? JAMES MORROW crunches the numbers and finds that there are plenty of good reasons why no other government on Earth has gone near this scheme
hen Ballarat truckie John De Jong was publicly humiliated for driving while under the influence of drugs – and then let off the hook (without so much as an apology, incidentally) when it turned out he was innocent – by the Victoria Police last year, it was widely assumed that the much-hyped roadside drug testing program that nabbed him would be allowed to die a quiet death. But instead of learning the potentially expensive lesson of De Jong’s case, Steve Bracks’ state government has pressed ahead with the program. And even though the police say they’ve changed their ways so that fewer innocent people will get caught in their net, a closer look at the program reveals that Victorian taxpayers are still being asked to sacrifice a lot of their own time and money for a program with highly speculative results. “One in 100 drivers found taking drugs” screamed the headlines when Victoria’s police finally lifted the lid on their controversial roadside drug testing program a few weeks ago. The state’s roads, went the implication, were choc-a-block with stoned ravers and speedaddled truckies: according to the police, around one in every hundred drivers tested by the program were found to have either THC, the active ingredient in marijuana or methamphetamines (or some combination of the two) in their system. Amazingly, this number was proportionally far greater than the number of motorists caught driving while under the influence of alcohol, a legal and readilyavailable product: As Melbourne’s Age noted in its report on the revived program, “the yearly average strike rate for motorists caught drink-driving is about one in every 250 tested”. Yet no one asked the question, could these new numbers for drugged drivers really be correct? 32, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
The famous American bank robber Willie Sutton was once asked by a reporter why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is,” came the succinct reply, and it’s hard to fault that logic. To arrive at these incredible 1-in-100 numbers, the sort of headline-grabbing figures that would not only consign John De Jong’s case to ancient history but win an extension of the program from the state parliament when it comes up for review later this year, it’s clear that the cops went the Willie Sutton route. In fact, despite initial claims that these numbers were arrived at largely by “random” methods, Victoria’s scare-story numbers were almost entirely the product of some very selective targeting. At one operation, targeting the New Year’s Day Summerdayze dance festival, almost one out of every ten drivers tested positive. It’s not clear how many drivers were pulled over on their way out of Summerdayze (the police won’t reveal such operational details about that or any other sting), but it’s easy to see how, in choosing this sort of venue, Victorian cops had an easy opportunity to up the numbers supporting this program. Do the math: Imagine that, say, fifty drivers were stopped in one night’s operation, and five of them tested positive – an extraordinary result, ten times that of the general population, but not at all unthinkable. If we take these statistical outliers out of the rest of the numbers, things become clearer: Stopping those other 1,450 other drivers would have led to just ten hits, cutting the overall success rate to just .68 of one percent. Now on one level it makes sense that if you want to catch people who are taking drugs, go to the sort of places where they hang out and party. (Though whether or not the time and effort spent sitting outside a dance festival could not have been more profitably spent
patrolling the roads for dangerous driving is another question). But it is also ridiculous on its face for Victoria’s police to suggest that because cops managed to get a one percent strike rate through highly selective targeting, then one out of every hundred cars one sees on Victoria’s roads is being driven by someone under the influence of drugs. This would be the equivalent of saying that, say, the number of drunks on the road on New Year’s Eve is the same as those out there on any other evening. Furthermore, while it may be tempting to compare testing for stoners and drunks, the procedure for administering these saliva tests are a good deal more invasive than simply asking a driver
to blow into a tube. A driver who gets stopped in by one of these sweeps is asked to put a saliva collector in his or her mouth, and then wait five minutes for the results to come back. (And refusal is not an option, but rather carries with it the presumption of on-the-spot guilt). If the sample comes back negative, the driver is free to go; otherwise, they have to produce a second sample, which, if it turns up positive, is then sent to a lab for further analysis by more accurate tests. In the meantime, then, they have to wait for up to three weeks to find out if they will be prosecuted for an offence. And not only is the test more involved and time-consuming for the (at least) 99 out of 100 drivers who are guilty of nothing but who are still compelled to sit by the side of the road for five minutes waiting to see if they will become the next John De Jong, unlike breathalyzers, with these drug tests there’s far less link between a positive result and actual driving impairment. That’s because these tests can pick up drugs taken long
before the driver got behind the wheel – thus a joint smoked on a Friday, while illegal, would likely not impair a driver Saturday. And isn’t the point of this whole program road safety?
o why did the Victorian cops decide to go down this route and become, as they proudly proclaim in all their literature, the first po lice department in the entire world to set up this sort of roadside drug-testing regime? Beyond the basic motive force that causes any bureaucracy to seek as many good headlines as possible while expending as little effort as possible, much of the justification seems to come from work done by Dr. Olaf H. Drummer of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, and especially a presentation he gave to the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists in 2004. The presentation was sponsored by BioMediq Pty. Ltd., the Doncaster, Vic.based agent for the UK company that makes the Cozart Rapiscan – the same test that snared truckie De Jong. In his talk, Drummer talked about the various ways drugged drivers can be a danger on the road (no argument here), but then drew the rather long bow that by spending $1 million to Rapiscan March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 33
Who needs a roadside drug test when for some motorists their faces are a dead giveaway? Californian woman Penny Wood traded her privacy for reduced prison time on traffic and petty crime misdemeanours, by agreeing to let police publicise her mugshots as a warning about the ravages of five years’ methamphetamine abuse. 10,000 Victorian drivers, the state could save a $15 million. As Drummer’s PowerPoint noted, this represents a “Cost benefit ration 15:1 ! [sic]”. But there are a couple of problems with Drummer’s study. For one thing, the arithmetic behind the purported $15 million savings feels like it was concocted in a trendy outcomes-based grade school maths classroom: it’s not whether the answer is right or wrong that is important, but rather that everyone feels good about the result. Drummer’s presentation states that “If drug testing and wider police enforcement reduces use of drugs and driving by … 5%” (italics added), the “reduction in drug use saves potentially $15 million” (again, italics added). Yet if 10,000 people were tested, and fully 1 percent of them were on drugs as police statistics imply (i.e., the entire program took 100 drivers), it is hard to figure how that handful of drug-takers could wreak $15 million worth of damage.
n other words, roadside drug testing could save lives and money; on the other hand, it might not. Since the only substances the current test looks for are pot and speed, then it stands to reason that the smart – well, if not smart, than at least cagey – drug abuser who was looking to get behind the wheel would simply switch to a different poison. Already this seems to be happening, as a quick scan of posts on forums hosted by inthemix.com.au, an Australian dance party website, suggests. (“We need to send out decoys,” one participant jokingly suggested amidst the debate. “The first car (which has a straight driver of course) that leaves in each convoy from the party puts drops in their eyes to cause their eyes to dilate, then drives in an erratic manner to attract attention, the cops then pull them over, see their huge eyes then perform the test on them. During this time, the remainder of the crew slip past. Once the test is complete and passed, everyone goes on their merry way.”) Victoria’s drivers are used to getting ripped off when they get behind the wheel. Recall that last year, that the state government had 34, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
to refund $14 million dollars to some 90,000 motorists incorrectly fined by speed cameras on Melbourne’s Western Ring Road, and spend a further $6 million compensating drivers for hardship when their licenses were incorrectly taken from them by dodgy technology – again, of course, all in the name of safety. Amazingly (especially considering the embarrassment of John De Jong’s case) Victoria’s police seem more than happy to once again let technology do their work for them, rather than get out on the roads and into the public transport system and look to stop unsafe or criminal behaviour in progress. In the process, Victorians will be forced to give up another little bit of their time and freedom, all in the inarguable name of safety. And that represents one of the biggest, yet most under-reported, problems with the whole program: while roadside drug testing may pull a few stoners off the road, it also represents yet another small erosion in the personal liberty of all Australians (New South Wales is considering a similar program at the moment, and it is unlikely to stay confined within Victoria’s borders). Part of the tradeoff of living in a free society is that people are willing to take on a bit more risk in return for having a government that, as much as possible leaves people alone to make their own decisions and go about their business. Australia is not, and should not become, one of those societies where cops and other agents of the state have the power to question and detain people without reasonable cause; that’s the sort of thing many Aussies (or their parents or grandparents) came here to get away from. While the pain of losing a friend or relative to an auto accident is, of course, incalculable, there is very little indication that an expensive drug-testing regime for motorists will do much more than cause a hassle, heartache, and ultimately further embarrassment for the Victorian government.
YOUR CHANCE TO
WIN A DIGITAL CAMERA!
INVESTIGATE 40% OFF
12 ISSUES delivered to your door for $57.60, and the chance to win a camera, when you subscribe to Australia’s current affairs magazine. Pay only $4.80 a copy, save $3.15 an issue
Or buy TWO SUBSCRIPTIONS for the PRICE OF ONE * Purchase two 12 mth subscriptions (one for you, one for a friend, or two years for you), and pay only $96 in total. That’s only $4 a copy! *LIMITED TIME OFFERS, THESE SPECIAL LAUNCH CELEBRATION RATES EXPIRE ON MARCH 31, 2005.
Photocopy or clip out this coupon and post to Investigate Publishing, PO Box 602, Bondi Junction, NSW 1355 or order online at www.investigatemagazine.com, or fax 1800 123 983
Yes, send me 12 issues for only $57.60, and put me in the draw to win a Konica Minolta digital camera
Phone E-mail Credit card number Expires Amex Diners Visa Bankcard Mastercard Cheque is enclosed
Yes, I want a gift subscription for a friend and one for myself for a total of $96, and put me in the camera draw. My friend’s name and address is:
Yes, I’d like to take out a two year subscription
for the price of one, at just $96, please enter me in the camera draw
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 35
THE INVESTIGATE INTERVIEW
Falling government debt, deregulated workplaces, and a reformed tax system are the hallmarks by which most Australians know Commonwealth Treasurer Peter Costello. But what does the man many believe will be Australia’s next Prime Minister think about faith, family, and the role government has to play in people’s lives? INVESTIGATE editor JAMES MORROW recently sat down with Costello for an exclusive interview to find out INVESTIGATE: Do you think that in general, government plays too big a role in Australian lives today? Hon. Peter Costello, MP: I think there’s been a long tradition in Australia of looking to government, and you can argue this goes right back to the foundation of Australia. Australia, remember, was founded as a government settlement — and it’s quite an interesting thing: how many countries were actually founded as government settlements? This one was, by white settlers. And 36, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
so you can go right back and see government has had quite a large role [in Australian life] ever since the First Fleet. [But] if we believe that all answers come from government, we’re defeated. That belief in itself, that government can solve all of our social problems is part of the problem rather than part of the answer. And I think we have to look much more to individual responsibility, volunteerism, private initiatives for many of the social answers to the problems.
INVESTIGATE: So you think the state can stand in the way of a lot of institutions that would otherwise do some good? COSTELLO: Does the state crowd out private initiatives? I think it can… INVESTIGATE: Crowd it out, or even just make it too hard to get it going, just in the same way the government can get in the way in the private sector? COSTELLO: Well if the state crowds it out, that is a problem. If the state gives rise to the belief that that it is capable and as a
“There are some things a state can’t do. A state can’t make marriages happy. It can’t give you personal contentment or fulfillment. It can’t give you spiritual succor or nourishment” March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 37
consequence individuals don’t see [social problems] as their responsibility, that is a problem. What I’ve argued, and I will argue very strongly for, is for a limited government. We ought to decide on the things government can do and ask government to do them, and limit it to those things, rather than have the expectation that the state can intervene in every area successfully. There are some things a state can do: a state can tax, and a state can spend. There are some things a state can’t do. A state can’t make marriages happy. It can’t give you personal contentment or fulfillment. It can’t give you spiritual succor or nourishment. And when you start looking to the state to do things it can’t do, the state fails, and your expectations are defeated. You do better to figure out what a state can do and limit it to those areas. INVESTIGATE: Can you talk a bit about your evolution as an economic thinker – I’m thinking particularly of your role in the Dollar Sweets case [which in the mid1980s represented a turning point for Australian industrial relations]? COSTELLO: When I first got involved in industrial relations, the labour market in Australia was probably the most heavily
company standing up against militant unions. And from that day to this there’s been a long argument going on in Australia about how much flexibility you should allow in our labour market. Although things have improved light years, I think in Australia today the labor market is still over-regulated, there is still room for improvement, and for me it has been a cause now for twenty years. Some of the things that I would have liked to have done, that I feel we should have done, have been defeated in the Senate, legislatively. There’s still room to move here in Australia. INVESTIGATE: So with regard to small businesses and medium-sized businesses, over-regulation is still hurting the economy, and the ability to create growth — and hurting the growth that Australia has been able to maintain for the last decade or so? COSTELLO: Yeah, I think so. Look, I think one of the things we know not just in Australia but around the world is that employment outcomes are better when there’s flexibility, when there’s ease of entry and ease of exit. It’s a funny thing to say, and people often say to me, “well, how is it that unfair
I’m not one of those people — I’m not a supply sider — I’m not one of those people that would say just cut your taxes and keep your spending where it is and run a big deficit and it will all fix itself. I don’t believe in that. I’m an old-fashioned conservative in the sense that I do believe in balanced budgets. INVESTIGATE: So you don’t believe in George W. Bush economics? COSTELLO: (laughs) Yes, unlike the current administration in the U.S. So I would say, yes, we should try and keep our taxes as low as possible, consistent with balancing our budget and meeting our social obligations. This idea, by the way, that if you gave a tax cut people would start working less, I think that’s thoroughly improbable. I think if you gave a tax cut people would probably keep working the same, and they’d be better off, but this idea that if you gave tax cuts we’d all return to some Rousseauian state of nature … well, in fact, the argument probably goes the other way: if you cut taxes, people might actually increase their efforts. This is the economic argument for lower taxes, they might actually increase their efforts and productiv-
“I think in Australia today the labor market is still overregulated, there is still room for improvement, and for me it has been a cause now for twenty years” regulated labour market in the world outside Cuba. And the way in which it used to work was that we had a tribunal which would set all terms and conditions, working hours, rates of pay, holidays, classifications, duties, and union coverage, and this would be obligatory on employers and employees. And in addition to that, because they had this industrial tribunal with such extensive regulation, the ordinary laws of contract weren’t applied. And I was advising a company [Dollar Sweets] that was resisting a union wage claim, and it was subject to picketing. The picket I think went 170 days, and there were bashings, arson, vandalism, and bomb threats. The industrial tribunals failed to solve it, the police were unable to secure the site, and I advised the company to go and get court injunctions, basically to uphold the rule of law. Now this was very unusual; it had never been done before. It’s funny to think about, but people thought this was a shocking affront to the industrial system at it was then applied in Australia, and we were successful. And it became a great cause célebre of a small 38, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
dismissal laws prohibit employment?” They say unfair dismissal laws should help keep people employed. But the truth of the matter is that if there are barriers to exit they form barriers to entry, and people become employment-averse and employment outcomes are worse. And this is not just in Australia: this is wellknown in Continental Europe, where unemployment is high. And one of the reasons is they have rigid labour market laws. INVESTIGATE: You say that the government can tax, and the government can spend. A lot of people on the right say the government still spends too much, and still taxes too much. Do you think there’s room for more freedom there in terms of cutting taxes? COSTELLO: Well, look, there are measures of these things. Australia’s tax-to-GDP ratio is higher than Japan’s or the US’s, lower than New Zealand’s, and lower than Europe’s. And that’s where we sit. Should we be working at keeping taxes as low as possible? Yes, we should be. And we should be working at keeping expenditures contained.
ity would rise, not that they would reduce their efforts. INVESTIGATE: Sure. But there would be more jobs and more money flowing through the economy… COSTELLO: And even at the same rate or at a higher output the argument is that the economy would so grow as to create jobs. INVESTIGATE: Let’s shift gears a bit: you’ve talked a lot about “social capital” lately, and I think people have an instinctual understanding of what you mean, but could you give more of a definition of what you mean when you use that phrase? COSTELLO: I don’t really like the term “social capital” because it’s trying to dress up what I think is a non-economic concept into economic language. People feel comfortable with that language because it has the word “capital” in there, so it gives rise for some to believe that this is something that is measurable. I’m not talking about something that is measurable. To me, society consists of concentric circles of relationships: it starts with the individual, then the individual to the
family, then a family in an extended family, then the family in a social institution, which might be a school, or it might be a church, or it might be a sporting club, and then these voluntary associations in a community, in a community in a city, in a city in a state, in a state in a nation, and these people are all engaging in a whole range of relations with each other which are enriching each others’ lives and providing networks and support. And these networks and support don’t come from the government, they weren’t instituted by the government. They exist outside the government, and they enrich you, your society and your community. And
“Could you have moral teaching without the church, without faith? If you disengage from the religious base, can you hold the moral order together? This is why I’m not an atheist” if you don’t nourish and nurture these relationships, your community will be poorer for it, and ultimately your economy will be poorer for it. [One way to look at is to ask,] what is the basis of contract? If you take the view that the contract is the basis of the freemarket economy, what is the basis of the contract? Well, partly it’s enforceability, but if we had to enforce every contract that’s made in society, then society would break down. Contracts evolve out of trust. You know, I will do for you in return for you doing for me, and there’s this concept of trust there. But where does this concept of trust come from in a society? Trust comes from the social relations and the social institutions that give society its shape and its form. And that’s what I’m arguing for: a rediscovery and a recognition of the importance of those social relations, of trust, of family, of volunteerism, of private capacity, because it gives the social dimension, and I think actually ultimately the economic dimension, to a society. INVESTIGATE: What role do churches and other faith-based organisations have to play in this regard? COSTELLO: I think they’re exceptionally important, because one of the great sources of moral teaching in the West is the church. It’s a very interesting question, I
think: Could you have moral teaching without the church, without faith? If you disengage from the religious base, can you hold the moral order together? This is why I’m not an atheist. INVESTIGATE: But aren’t a lot of church organizations — I’m thinking of the Catholic church, for example — very political, and have a very strong left-wing bent to them? And in fact wind up as much political organizations as institutions simply trying to do good on this Earth? COSTELLO: Yeah, I think this is a very interesting question. Let’s take the Catholic church: if you listen to some leaders of the Catholic church, you would think the great moral issues of the day are the war in Iraq, saving the trees, and redistributing income. You could go to another Catholic church where you could be told that the great moral issues of the day are abortion, stem-cell research and homosexual priests. It’s almost like there are two Catholic churches out there, and never do the twain meet. Now that second church, I think, is the historic Catholic church, and certainly the church of Pope John Paul II. This other Catholic church is the church of the modern Jesuits. And actually I think the churches themselves are confused about what the moral issues of the day are, and I think many of their parishioners can sense this. That’s one of the reasons why you’ve got the rise of the modern Pentecostal-type movement, because at least the preachers in that movement appear to believe in what they’re saying. If you go to a lot of other churches, established churches, the preacher appears to thoroughly disbelieve everything he’s saying. And if I want to listen to someone preach a sermon, I’d like to feel at least he believes it! How can he expect me to believe it, if I can’t believe he believes it? INVESTIGATE: How should Australia, a Christian-majority society, deal with other faiths, such as Islam, where there are elements that might want to assert themselves in an intolerant fashion while using our tolerance as cover to do so? COSTELLO: Well, the way I put it is, I think that Australia is certainly founded in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and that is the basis of our society. Having said that, I think it’s a thoroughly secular society, and I suspect that religious belief and observance is quite low in Australia, certainly lower than the U.S… INVESTIGATE: Something like ten, fifteen percent church attendance? COSTELLO: I don’t know, but it’s cer-
tainly much lower than in the United States. I would say, however, that part of the social contract in our society is that whilst people are free to practice their religious beliefs, they are also obligated to accept the basic preconditions of our society, which is respect for other peoples’ belief, respect for the law, tolerance, respect for individual rights, avoidance of terrorism, and we would expect people of all religious faiths to observe these rights and responsibilities in Australian society, including Islam. INVESTIGATE: You say we’ve become a very secularized society. Do you think we’ve become too individualized as a society here in Australia? COSTELLO: I’m worried by family breakdown. I’d be very worried if, particularly for kids growing up, if they didn’t have the support of parents and brothers and sisters and extended families. That would worry me. I’m not worried by individual-
want [relationships] to happen fast and successfully, and if they don’t, the view is discard them and form new ones. And I think that attitude can be a great threat to the family”
ism — it’s got many positives. But I would be worried if what I consider the most basic institution, the family, were to be so under attack that particularly. I think that at two stages of life family is really important. One is when you’re a child growing up, the second is in your old age. And to be frank with you, I don’t think any society has the capacity to look after people in their old age through state provision. This is where you need families, to care for older relatives and to provide that kind of protective web. INVESTIGATE: What do you think the big threats to the family are right now? COSTELLO: Well, I think the problem is relationships in Australia are becoming much more transient. There does seem to be a view in the modern world that everything’s got a shorter and shorter shelf life, including relationships. You know, we’re an impatient people, aren’t we? We get on the internet, we want information to come to us quickly. We stand in a queue at a coffee counter and we want our coffee to come quickly. We go to enterMarch 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 39
Photography: NICK LEARY tainment, we want the action to happen fast, and I worry that sometimes we bring this expectation to relationships: We want them to happen fast and successfully, and if they don’t, the view is, discard them and form new ones. And I think that attitude can be a great threat to the family. If people take the view that relationships are disposable, then I think that is a threat to the family, because the essence of family is that it’s a long-term relationship between these people. You would expect a family relationship to survive a whole lifetime, and to survive succeeding lifetimes… INVESTIGATE: Because without that you can’t get that support in later life? COSTELLO: Yes, the care of the young, and the care of the old. This is the idea of family as a compact: parents caring for the children, and the children caring for the parents when the parents are old, and we move this institution down through the generations. INVESTIGATE: Moving overseas a bit, how do you see Australia’s relations with the other big Anglosphere nations progressing, especially with New Zealand, which is our close neighbor but is socially drifting down quite a different path? COSTELLO: Well I think Australia’s relations with the Anglo countries are as close now as they have ever been. That closeness is with the U.S. and with Britain in particular, and a lot of that comes out of Iraq, defense cooperation, and intelligence sharing. Concerning New Zealand, I think Australia feels very close with New Zealand. I feel that relations between the countries are good, but New Zealand has taken a bit of a different turn on the defence issue. But trade remains strong, [as do] the people-to-people rela40, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
tionships. The consequence of [the defence issue] is that it altered the nature of the ANZUS relationship because it altered the nature of the relationship between New Zealand and the U.S. That has changed the nature of the defense relationship a little bit between Australia and New Zealand. Having said that, I think people-to-people relationships are close, and I think there’s a lot of good will between the Australians and the Kiwis. INVESTIGATE: Again, shifting gears a bit, you’ve come out in support of a republic. Where do you stand on that now? COSTELLO: Well, look, my view is that the role ofthe monarchy in our constitutional arrangements is largely symbolical. It’s a symbolism that served Australia well in decades past, but I’m not sure it will serve Australia well in decades to come, and therefore I think Australia will have to move to have stronger symbolic arrangements in place whilst preserving the best of our constitutional system, which is a Westminster parliamentary system. And I think this is an issue that is not a first-order issue, but one that Australia will have to deal with in years to come. INVESTIGATE: Finally, your name is very often connected with the phrase, “Australia’s next prime minister”. Now I know your boss has said that he intends to be in office for quite some time, but were you to eventually ascend to the Prime Ministership, is there anything we should expect in a Costello government? COSTELLO: (chuckles) Well, we’ll take the opportunities that arise as they arise, but we won’t speculate on them in the meantime!
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 41
42, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
MULLAHS GUNS MONEY
We’re inside Al Qa’ida’s Pacific hideaway It’s closer to Darwin than Darwin is to Sydney. It’s also a lush, tropical jungle that’s also home to fundamentalist Islamic rebels hoping to establish a state of their own just to our north. Welcome to the Philippine island of Mindanao, where, as MATTHEW THOMPSON and photographer KATE GERAGHTY found out in a trip behind enemy lines, nothing is what it seems – not even a peace treaty
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 43
inally the call comes. A US spook-pack will meet me at a red-light district restaurant. They consume only meatballs and beer, and we’re about to order another round when the embassy official gets edgy. “I think we’re being cased. There’s a guy out there on his cell phone who’s watching us,” he says, tilting his beer stein towards a man staring in from across the road. The highest ranking of my hosts, sitting with his back to the windows, rolls his eyes. “So what. They never spray us on the first night,” he says, not even turning around. The official shakes his head. “I’m not comfortable with this.” He reminds everyone that it is only weeks since a Filipino terror cell working for Jemaah Islamiyah, perpetrators of the 2002 Bali bombing, got caught casing the fortified US embassy on Manila Bay, doing homework for a bomb attack. The senior officer is still unimpressed. “My boys are outside. There’s no problem,” he says. A pair of hefty Filipinos drink coffee at a table on the pavement. But Jim, a giant of a man who accompanies US Special Forces around the world in his work for American private security consultancy Dyncorp, stands up. “I’ll settle this,” he says. Jim walks straight across the road and I glimpse a startled expression on the suspect’s face before he disappears behind the American. When Jim turns to come back in the restaurant, the man is gone. “He won’t be a problem,” Jim tells us. With more beer and meatballs ordered, the officer turns the conversation to terrorism.
44, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
“How many guys did you lose at Bali? Almost ninety? I don’t know why you Aussies aren’t jumping up and down about Mindanao,” the officer says, referring to the large southern Filipino island where the bombers trained, and where I would soon be heading. Another dinner companion, Bob, whom I’m told is “the most crucial guy you’ll meet on all this” (but who declines to reveal either his employer or line of work) talks about the government’s reaction to the “worst maritime terrorist disaster in history” – the sinking of the Superferry 14 in February last year by the Islamic Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). “They lost over a hundred people on the Superferry and they didn’t give a damn. You wanna know why? Because the Philippines is ruled and owned by a handful of arseholes who couldn’t give a damn about folks who catch ferries. The average guy means nothing to them,” Bob says. The meatballs arrive and Bob waits for the banter with the waitress to die down. “I love this country. I could live the rest of my life here,” he says. “So long as you’re not paid in Pesos,” Jim says. “But I’m telling you nothing is going to change until there is a French-style revolution and they cut the heads off everyone who run this place,” Bob says. He drinks his beer then looks at me. “We’re doing what we can, but unless the countries from this region who have power in the region, and I’m talking Australia … unless you do a whole lot more to push the Filipinos into getting the bad guys, then the only thing that that’s going to get them
moving is when they have a catastrophic attack right here,” Bob says. Given the dangers of staying too long in the one spot, we switch to a bar where a Jim enlists a hostess to help demonstrate the flow of a battle. “We came up this canyon and met the bad guys around here…” says Jim, hoisting the bar-girl’s breasts this way and that as the battle develops. Meanwhile Bob leans in, trying to talk to me amidst the crush of female attention. “You know, 9/11 was planned in this city,” he says, referring to the Manila days of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, al Qa’ida’s former operations leader who oversaw September 11, and his nephew, Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. This Western-educated pair of engineers (Muhammad studied in the US and Yousef in the UK) lived in Manila in the early 1990s, where they brainstormed a variety of terrorist strikes against US targets involving jetliners – abandoned or foiled prototypes of the sort of devastation that Sheikh Muhammad would eventually achieve. The plans ranged from the 9/11-like ramming of hijacked explosive-laden planes into
the Pentagon and nearby CIA headquarters to the Bojinka plot - where 11 American passenger jets would simultaneously explode en route to the US from airports in the Asia Pacific region. The plan also included a wave of church and business bombings and assassinations. When visiting Manila, Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II were to be killed, as was the then-president of the Philippines, Fidel Ramos. Yousef had considerable expertise with explosives. He warmed up for the mass murder by stashing a small nitro-glycerine device on a Philippines Airline flight from Manila to Tokyo in December 1994. Yousef deplaned before the last leg of the flight, during which his bomb blew a hole in the fuselage, killing one, wounding eleven, and forcing an emergency landing.
owever, al Qa’ida’s 11-plane plot came unstuck a month later when bomb-making chemicals caught fire in Yousef ’s Manila apartment and the police attending found explosives and a computer with encrypted files that eventually yielded detailed plans for the
Bojinka attacks. He was later caught in Pakistan and extradited to the US, where he is serving a 240-year sentence in a federal prison in Colorado. Unfortunately, Sheikh Muhammad stayed in circulation until 2002, when he was apprehended in Pakistan, languishing ever since somewhere in US custody. The Abu Sayyaf has long campaigned for Yousef ’s release, threatening carnage if his incarceration continues and using hostages as bargaining chips. The US declines to negotiate. Al Qa’ida’s claws are hooked deep into this country whose southern lands are closer to Darwin than Darwin is to Sydney. In the year Australia celebrated its bicentennial, 1988, Osama bin Laden co-founded al Qa’ida al-Sulbah (“the solid base”), and his brother-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifa, moved to Manila. There he set up a number of trading companies and non-government organisations while taking control of several Muslim charities, including the Philippine branch of the International Islamic Relief Organisation. Khalifa ensured that charity money flowed to militant groups as Filipino jihadists came March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 45
home from the conflict in Afghanistan. Those who served abroad had transformed from parochial rebels into international jihadists, and with a little help from their friends, they transformed the Philippines from a country in which local wars were fought for local reasons into a new Afghanistan. Mindanao, home to the bulk of the Philippines’ five million Muslims, became a citadel of terrorism.
halifa financed the Islamist ambitions of Abdurajak Janjalani, an Afghan veteran from the island of Balisan off Mindanao’s southwestern tip. Janjalani started the Abu Sayyaf Group (the name means “bearer of the sword”), and courtesy of al Qa’ida’s largesse, Janjalani sent batches of fighters through religious indoctrination and military training at terrorist academies in regions of Mindanao held by the Philippine’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Army. The Abu Sayyaf then grew into the most hated pack of extremists in the Philippines, storming schools and hospitals, raping and murdering nurses, pulling fingernails from priests, beheading and enslaving Christians, bombing churches and ferries, and seizing tourists from resorts as far away as Malaysia. Battered by al Qa’ida-aided terrorist groups including the Abu Sayyaf, JI, and the MILF, the Philippines has for about fifteen years endured the kind of Islamic terrorism that has traumatised much of the West only since 2001. In the later half of the 1990s, the MILF welcomed Jemaah Islamiyah to Mindanao. Members of the two groups had bonded during the Afghan war, often living and training together. As the International Crisis Group (ICG) reports in Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia: Damaged but Still Dangerous, Filipinos, Indonesians and other South East Asian jihadists stayed mainly in the camps of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan commander whose puritanical brand of Islam earned him the friendship of Osama bin Laden and considerable financial backing from Saudi Arabia. And as the ICG reports, many who later became notorious terrorists (including JI’s Bali-bombing strategist, Hambali, and Janjalani of the Abu Sayyaf), trained at a camp led by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf. Janjalani named the Abu Sayyaf in his honour. I’m sitting in the lounge room of MILF spokesman Eid Kabulu in his central Mindanao home when he tells me that he is one of “many hundred” Muslim guerrilla from Mindanao who travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan for the fight against the “Russian menace”. The war was a time of solidarity between Islam and the West, he says. “Recall even that bin Laden was there and they were fighting side by side with the Americans and there was no quarrel at that time, but later on they quarrel.” Kabalu says that many of the MILF’s Afghan sponsors, including Sayyaf, enjoyed power after the war as victorious mujahidin leaders, but “later on they were overthrown by the Taliban.” So the Filipinos came home to Mindanao, and brought JI with them. The Philippines is a terrorist playhouse – a rugged wonderland of guns and machismo from its labyrinthine capital, Manila (population 10 million), to the feudal countryside where government control grows weak and much of the Muslim community ignores the rule of law, instead following a vendetta system known as “rido”. Rido necessitates blood money, payback killings, the targeting of relatives, and even attacks on the families of police should they try to intervene. About 90 percent of the country’s 83 million-strong population are Catholic, and in fact Islam accounts for less than 5% of the population, but Mindanao is home to enough radicalized Muslims
46, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
to have been home to a three decades-old insurgency going that has cost an estimated 120,000 lives. The MILF can field about 12,000 well-armed, well-trained guerrillas at the drop of a hat, and has tens of thousands more in reserve. Today an uneasy peace exists between the MILF, which denies links to JI and other terrorist groups, and the Filipino government: Under an agreement signed almost three years ago, the MILF is required to block the entry of wanted men into their communities, and to work with the authorities to pursue and apprehend fugitives inside its regions. The military and police, meanwhile, are required to submit to the insurgents their order of battle and the names of the hunted. But this is all just theory: almost three years later, the government has yet to even nominate its delegates to a Joint Action Group that will oversee the enforcement of law as called for by the ceasefire. More to the point, the idea that the MILF and JI aren’t thick as thieves, and that any information given by the Filipino government would not immediately be passed on to terrorists is laughable, as shown during a 2000 government offensive when the army overran a joint JI-MILF training centre called Camp Hudaibiyah. What they found was a veritable graduate school for jihadists. Courses ran for as long as three years, but shorter programs were available, including an 18-month special: “It consisted of three semesters, each six months, with two-week breaks at the end of the first and second semesters … practical explosives training covered familiarisation, identification, and handling of TNT, C-4, black powder, ammonium nitrate and RDX, detonating cord and detonators, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)”, according to the ICG
report. The JI students were also embedded with the MILF in areas of greatest tension with government forces, so that they might benefit from “jihad exposure”, the report says. A witness at the trial of JI’s accused spiritual head, Abu Bakar Bashiyar, told an Indonesian court in December that he stood beside Bashir at Camp Hudaibiyah’s 2000 graduation ceremony of JI terrorists. In Collier’s report for the ICG, Southern Philippines Backgrounder: Terrorism and the Peace Process, he writes that “the men who trained or became instructors in Camp Hudaibiyah include many of the JI members most closely associated with the Bali bombings and other atrocities in Indonesia and the Philippines.” Nevertheless, despite this glaring Exhibit A – Camp Hudaibiyah – and plenty of other evidence from arrests and corroborated admissions that the two groups have worked together on bomb attacks in the Philippines and Indonesia, and that joint training continues in remote camps, the government maintains that the MILF is not a terrorist organisation in order to maintain the fiction of a ceasefire. When guerrillas are caught or implicated in bombings, the government settles for the useful fiction that the guilty parties are from the MILF’s “lost commands”, thereby excusing the organisation of responsibility and allowing the peace process to trundle along. The government has even persuaded Washington to leave the MILF off its list of foreign terrorist organisations. Observers such as the International Crisis Group and JI defectors have reported that as the Philippine military threatened Camp Hudaibiyah, JI retreated into a more remote, mountainous MILF region and set up a new camp known as Jabal Quba. But under the terms of a ceasefire signed in July 2003, government forces are barred from approaching Jabal Quba without prior permission from the MILF – though the rebels routinely invite government officials and members of the press to come on three-day guerrillasupervised hikes to the Jabal Quba area, where up to 30 JI terrorists are reportedly training at any one time, according to Rohan Gunaratna. “Mindanao is JI’s strategic base. As long as the camps are active, JI will replenish itself,” says Gunaratna, a former principal investigator for the United Nations’ Terrorism Prevention Branch. Indeed, key to the MILF’s long-term ceasefire strategy might be seen in the very name Camp Hudaibiyah: In the early days of Islam, when the Prophet
Muhammed lacked sufficient military force to take the town of Mecca from the Quarish tribe, he signed the Hudaibiyah Treaty, a 10year mutual non-aggression pact. But within three years, the Prophet’s army had grown more than fivefold, so he slaughtered the Quarish men, enslaved the women, and seized the town. This theologically-justified technique of using a treaty to rebuild forces became known as a Hudna, and Hudaibiyah was its first application. Mindanao is a threat to the world.
indanao is a sprawling, mountainous island, shaped like a leprous poodle that’s just been kicked in the rear. My plane flies over the rugged forests of the snout-like Zamboanga Peninsula on the island’s west and banks steeply to land at Zamboanga City, known as the City of Flowers due to its bougainvilleas and other distractions. The predominantly Catholic seaside city also has a reputation for danger. Unfairly, according to locals quick to point out that no-one has been killed in a bombing for years (well, about two, which is a long time in the action-packed Philippines). And as for the menace of kidnap-for-ransom-groups (known as KFRGs), well, that’s a problem all over the country. Just don’t wander around at night and try to avoid routines. And maybe don’t visit the countryside, because of the bandits. (“You have bandits in Australia?”). Foreigners are told not to even trust the police near the labyrinthine Muslim ghetto of Rio Hondo, they say. Anyone could be an agent of the Abu Sayyaf, or in their pay. The people staring at you from every doorway and window will think you are rich, or work for a big company that will pay a ransom. Or that you are a US soldier. Or CIA. One afternoon I walk through markets and find the usual smiles and calls of “Hey, Joe!” replaced by dead-eyed glares. Then I hear a man pass the word: “Military”. Someone blew up a US soldier just outside Zamboanga City in 2002 – killed him and three locals at a side-street bar next to the joint US-Filipino training facility. When I land at the airport, a fit young American in casuals from my flight is met by a pick-up full of uniformed US soldiers. My guess is they’re whisking him out to base. A large “caliber” pistol is used to put a photojournalist down nearby Jolo while I’m in Mindanao. One shot to the head as he takes sunset photographs.
I sit and watch Baslian’s peaks and ranges glimmer blue to black as the day fades from the outdoor bar of the grand and empty Lantaka Seaside Hotel in Zamboanga City. All along the horizon, Basilan’s peaks and ranges glimmer blue to black as the light fades. Pearl hawkers and sea gypsies on the beach climb back in their boats, some to cruise home across the strait. The barman serves icy bottles of San Miguel beer and talks about how good business was when Marcos held the country under martial law. The Muslim and communist rebellions were even worse then, but the hotels, restaurants, beaches and shops were packed with Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Americans, Swedes, and Australians, he says. Democracy brought political instability followed by Islamic terrorism and the kidnapping of foreigners. Now business is so bad that half the hotel is mothballed, with patronage only picking up when journalists flock to cover the latest Abu Sayyaf outrage out on the islands. Yet even in quiet times, the Armed Forces of the Philippines remains an important source of income for Zamboanga City, which hosts the headquarters of the military’s Southern Command, a.k.a. Southcom. The AFP divides the nation into three theatres, one for each of the Philippines’ major island groups (Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao), with Southcom handling military operations in and around Mindanao. At Southcom’s helm is Lieutenant General Alberto Fernando Braganza. Braganza has only been on the job a couple of days when we talk, but his office is already well set-up, and he leads me past the leather sofa set and ornate mahogany furniture to admire his statue of the Blessed Virgin, a framed photograph of his first parachute jump, and various awards and citations. Mindanao is the largest of the three Philippine commands, so Braganza’s ten-month posting marks a distinguished end to a long career. Commissioned as an officer in 1972, he will retire in September this year. And if what Braganza tells me is correct, then Mindanao’s reputation for mayhem is also due to hang up its boots. Terrorism, rebellions, and lawlessness? Dead and buried, by and large. The general commands 40,000 troops in the Philippines’ most volatile region – an area viewed worldwide as contested ground in the war on terror – and with every smile, every carefully selected reminiscence, every casual flex of the arm, he seems to project that all worry is unnecessary. Thus Braganza March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 47
is piqued by warnings to avoid his domain. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as the US State Department, say they have information about terrorists planning attacks, possibly against coastal resorts, and recommend deferring all non-essential travel to Mindanao. Braganza tells me that although “local cells” of JI are active in the Philippines, including those caught casing the US Embassy, such criminals have no future because “the people want peace”. “It is really unfair to have this travel advisory not to go to Mindanao – it’s a very peaceful place,” Braganza says. I ask how he can say that when the Indonesian courts are full of JI members talking about their carefree student days in Mindanao learning the dos and don’ts of bomb-making and guerrilla warfare. I ask how his reading of the island’s peacefulness jells with the simple fact that large regions of Mindanao are held by JI’s allies and protectors, the MILF. “We control all territories,” Braganza says, smiling. Once upon a time, Mindanao suffered from “the threat of terrorism, insurgency, criminality and lawlessness”, but today it is “very safe”, he says. And generally fine for tourism. Heck, even the four most wanted Abu Sayyaf commanders are taking advantage of the new Mindanao. “They have been moving around. They are enjoying Mindanao. That these fugitive sightseers have little to do but relax in sleepy backwaters or visit relatives on Basilan, shows that the military is “making great strides” in taming Mindanao. “Abu Sayyaf is a spent force. We have destroyed their will to fight, although to some extent there could be recruitment.” “There has been no major incident for about two years now, except for the Superferry,” Braganza adds. The Abu Sayyaf ’s bombing of the Superferry 14 as it left Manila Bay bound for Zamboanga City killed about 130 people and is the Philippines’ worst ever terrorist outrage. I ask how this fits with the “spent force” theory. “We are on top of the situation,” he says. Reassuring news, provided we also ignore carnage in Mindanao’s Davao City, the Philippines’ largest metropolis after Manila. Braganza made his remarks in November last year, but bombs twice hit Davao City the year before, killing more than 40 and injuring about 170, the deadliest in a wave of bombings across Mindanao in 2003. Still, Braganza assures me that Mindanao is mine to explore. “It’s very safe,” he says. “But what about all the locals telling me I’ve got a 50/50 chance of making it if I go for a drive up into the mountains?” I ask. Braganza scoffs. “No. Not at all. I go everywhere in Mindanao, and it is very safe.” “OK, well, I’ll drive around then.” Braganza smiles and leans forward. “Because you don’t know the area and might not find your way, I will have you escorted,” he says. Five weeks after I interviewed General Braganza, a bomb exploded in a market at Mindanao’s General Santos City, a major tuna fishing port, killing 15 people and injuring about 70. The regional police chief said after the 12 December blast that he would keep an open mind about who might be the guilty party, because of the large number of rebel groups operating in the city. Filipino authorities are notorious for destroying evidence, sometimes ordering blast sites cleaned up before forensic crews are finished. But perhaps this bombing will yield a greater amount of evidence than usual with the help of more methodical investigators – a senior officer of the Filipino Marines told me that the Australian Federal Police now have a presence in General Santos City. The Federal 48, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
Police had not answered questions about this claim at the time this went to press.
raganza proves as good as his word. I don’t feel in any danger whatsoever of getting lost touring Basilan. Not while sitting in the centre vehicle of a three Humvee convoy, cruising with the colonel responsible for military operations on the island, an army information officer, a plain clothes intelligence officer from the Filipino Marines, and a dozen or so troopers in full battle gear. With Rosary beads dangling from the rear-view vision mirrors, we cruise the mainly Muslim province, checking out paramilitary checkpoints, sites of notorious terrorist crimes (hospitals stormed and nurses dragged away to be raped and killed; Catholic schools raided with 53 students and staff dragged away; teachers tortured, raped, their breasts cut off), the lush mountains, far-flung combat bases, and other attractions. The man in charge is Colonel Raymundo B. Ferrer, commanding officer of the 103rd Infantry Battalion. He talks me through the early stirrings of Basilan’s terrorist madness. “We were hearing some things through the Afghan war, how some Muslims were recruited from the Philippines,” the colonel says. “After the Afghan war they have to come back. They’re jobless, but with training and ideology. The Abu Sayyaf Group emerged.” Abu Sayyaf champions an Islamic state across the Basilan and the Sulu archipelago, but its rampages belie a strong profit motive. Ferrer says that waving the Islamic flag is itself just another money-making tool for the Abu Sayyaf. “They just have to use the word ‘jihad’ so they get support from Muslim countries. They are not like the Taliban,” he says. Yet the Taliban and the Abu Sayyaf have some common friends. “Mindanao has al Qa’ida cells. ASG definitely had training from al Qa’ida,” Ferrer says. Ferrer wears jungle fatigues for the island tour, but at night he sports an Elmo t-shirt. while his men pile the tables high with fried chicken, grilled fish, limes, rice, mangos, papayas, and beer. Ferrer tells me the US approach has had better results than Germany’s earlier payment of US$25 million. The ransom was ostensibly for community development projects, but the terrorists threw a little around to beef up their popular support, and then invested in better weaponry. “They bought speedboats with two outboard and two inboard motors – they could do 50 knots. Our boats could not keep up,” Ferrer says. “And the Abu Sayyaf are sea people, they know the sea like a highway.” “The politicians raised bad memories of Americans fighting there when they colonised the Philippines one century ago, but that was just a smoke screen,” Ferrer says. “The truth is that this is a feudal country, and the reason that ASG were not finished off on Jolo and Tawi-Tawi is because the politicians like things to be backward. They are very rich from how things are and they do not want anything to change or to be developed. People will not question the status quo if they are not educated”. Ferrer says, then shifts in his chair and rests in his thoughts. If terrorists, insurgents, or anyone else wants to sneak up on the camp, now is the time, because the militia rock band starts rocking in one of the huts. Ferrer comes out of his reverie, and looks at me. “We are kept as a guerrilla force, you know. The government only gives us enough resources to remain as a guerrilla force, so that we are not too strong. I don’t know how long I can sustain the peace,” he says.
“It is really unfair to have this travel advisory not to go to Mindanao – it is a very peaceful place, Braganza says” March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 49
otabato City, half Christian, half Muslim, is a gunned-up frontier town of about 150,000; a tran sit point for terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, evacu ees and rebels en route to the interior of the Philip pines’ major southern island, Mindanao. “Wanted for Kidnapping” posters decorate sidings around Cotabato City, each showing twenty or so fugitive members from some of the Philippines’ multitudinous kidnap-for-ransom groups. Police cradle M-16s as they patrol the town, given the region’s well-armed outlaws. Yet the situation the Cotabato City constabulary handle is rosy compared to their colleagues to the east around Davao City, where the communist New People’s Army frequently kill cops in ambushes and raids. Stroll the Cotabato City streets and you will also see Government soldiers driving by in trucks and Humvees, part of the 6th Infantry Division which is headquartered beside the airport on the outskirts. The 6ID are the ones likely to be doing the shooting and the getting shot at during the occasional ceasefire violation. A couple hours’ drive from Cotabato City will take the intrepid into what the army calls “MILF communities”, majority-Muslim regions in which able-bodied men are presumed guerrillas with ready access to serious firepower. In many of these areas, both the military and police would be inviting serious violence if they entered, so they don’t, even if General Braganza entertains a different story. Jemaah Islamiyah, on the other hand, is welcome. Arrests, confessions, and raids have shown conclusively that the town has a JI problem, but only to those who want to believe. I attend a dinner for the International Monitoring Team – the multinational inspection force tasked with keeping both sides moving towards a peace deal - where the mayor of Cotabato City, Muslimin Sema, dismisses “the alleged presence of so-called terrorists”. “This is a peaceful city,” says Sema, as he complains that the United States is holding up aid money until counter-terrorism is taken seriously. Sema is on the executive of the MNLF and holds substantial power over civil administration in the five majority Islamic provinces which were designated the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the 1996 peace agreement. The ARMM is kept afloat courtesy of a United Nations trust fund. The next day Major Dickson Hermoso, who chairs the Government’s side of the Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities, a ceasefire panel working through a peace process with the MILF, shows me a JI safe-house where the police found preparations for bio-chemical attacks – just another bland little building in a narrow street not far from his own home. “They like it here because it is a good neighbourhood,” he says. The ceasefire chairman dresses his family with Kevlar when central Mindanao is in the mood to celebrate. Hermoso has already been shot a couple of times, not from the wild sky-firing at Cotabato City during Ramadan, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, but in “engagements” with communist rebels elsewhere in the archipelago. “I am friends with my God,” says Hermoso, smiling as he displays scars where bullets passed through his wrist and side without crippling damage. Yet the Catholic Hermoso prefers that during festivities, his family’s faith not be similarly tested. “With my kids we all wear Kevlar helmets and hide under a concrete roof, because my house was hit twice and once a bullet lodged in my bed,” Hermoso says. “It is illegal to shoot into their air, but there is not much the police can do to stop it, because when people see them coming, they just play hide and seek with their guns.” 50, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
And when Ramadan ends, the 4AM call to prayer of the Cotabato City muezzins has a distinctive percussive accompaniment. As pleas to Allah, the compassionate, the merciful, and to His prophet Muhhamad wail across the still-dark tropics, jarring blasts from automatic weapons suggest that many believers are not yet in the mosques. The shooting continues for about 90 minutes. In a van with blacked-out windows speeding through Maguindanao province towards the edges of Government control, the casually-dressed major draws a pistol from his picnic basket. “I brought this because you are coming, and my boys also have guns,” he says, gesturing towards the plain-clothes pair up front. “Your white skin is an incitement, because to the Muslim you represent the infidel – the one who refuses to accept Allah.” We drive through poor districts where people hang in doorways and under shade, waiting until sunset to break their Ramadan fasts, pull up at a ceasefire monitoring station at Buliok – a traditional MILF heartland currently enduring an army presence. Government forces overran Buliok in 2003, using tanks, air-strikes and infantry to kill perhaps 100 guerrillas, and reportedly suffering a similar number of casualties. Now the barangay looks like any other – tidy thatched houses lining the paths; kids shooting baskets on a pair of the Philippines’ ubiquitous backboards; hut-front stalls offering Coca-Cola and cigarettes. Normal, except for the Philippines army jeep pulling up with “Armageddon” painted across the windscreen and its load of soldiers fanning out with their weapons. And normal except for the Local Monitoring Team (LMT) board stuck up showing cell-phone hotlines to call should the ceasefire come to an abrupt halt. A chubby guy hired on to the government side of the LMT strolls over, but the MILF representatives are nowhere to be seen. Hermoso walks me past the mosque to the edge of the Mindanao River, where we watch a constant run of boats moving passengers and goods. Many are piloted by young boys and some can be seen carrying pistols. Across the river a row of huts sit before light forest, with no one visible, nor any sign of human habitation. I have never before seen a collection of clean, empty buildings in the Philippines. We had hoped to meet the guerrillas working for the Buliok LMT, but it turns out they are somewhere over the river. “That is MILF territory,” Hermoso says. “So can we cross the river? Go and talk to people over there?” I ask. “No, not without prior arrangement with the MILF, or it would be a ceasefire violation,” Hermoso says. “So how can anyone know what’s going on in MILF areas?” I ask. “The IMT arranges visits as part of the peace process.” “But if they’re arranged in advance with the MILF, won’t JI or Abu Sayyaf terrorists know to go away for the weekend, and pop back when the monitors are gone?” “Yes, but this JI is not part of the problem or mandate of the IMT,” Hermoso says. I remind Hermoso that the MILF has made the presence of terrorists in their camps a peace issue by inviting Australia and the US to join an IMT visit to a facility where scores of JI and Abu Sayyaf are known to have trained and strongly believed to continue training, Camp Jabal Quba, tucked away in a remote volcanic region north of Cotabato City. The MILF spokesman, Kabalu, told me that the rebels had nothing to hide from Western governments, and an arranged visit in the company of guerrillas to an area three days’ hike from the road
would “determine once and for all the presence of alleged Jemaah Islamiyah or any suspected terrorists”. However, Australian and US embassy officials told me that they ignored the offer because the visit would determine nothing. Hermoso says that is true. “By telegraphing the moves of the government in going up there, we will not see anything, but we appreciate the gesture of the MILF in inviting us,” he says. Welcoming this gesture is part of “confidence building”, which may gradually turn the MILF from its support of terrorists. When I point out the deadly futility of this strategy, Hermoso smiles. “We have to build confidence. It is gradual but it is the only way,” he says.
“One of Basilan’s MILF unit commanders, Bonnie Salih, pops out of his ceasefire-protected jungle lair in a purple paisley shirt for a chat. ‘We have a different ideology to the Abu Sayyaf and JI. We are involved in Islam, not terrorists. We do not want terrorists. We want peace...”
ajor General Raul Relano, commanding officer of the 7,000-strong 6th Infantry Division, apologises for the heat. He has ordered the 6ID to do without air conditioning for the next few months to cut energy consumption, and his headquarters by the airport are sweltering. We sit down to coffee, and Relano talks about the terrorist groups he hunts. “In the Philippines we have the Communists, Abu Sayyaf, JI, and religious organisations connected to al Qa’ida.” The JI presence in rebel areas has been reported by informants, Relano says. The MILF routinely issue denials, “but their statements are always cloudy.” Relano tells me the military tries to monitor movements, but “these are areas not easily accessible to troops. Whenever they go there, skirmishes ensue.” These altercations can get very bloody, because “they have heavy weaponry, RPGs, mortars that they got from their counterparts in the Middle East, and some they have manufactured in country. They have money from their kidnapping activities, and are able to buy heavy weapons. Informants tell us they have so many money, probably some from Saudi sympathisers,” Relano says. Of prime concern are the scale and spread of JI training in ceasefire-protected zones. Relano talks about rebel strongholds, heavily defended regions with large standing forces where the MILF trains its guerrillas. “And is JI also training in those areas?” I ask. “I have two ideas on this – if you’re having confidence building measures and peace talks, you have to trust them. But in Cotabato,
we always have these doubts,” Relano says. “Being a soldier is being smothered somewhat by being a peace-lover, otherwise we would be confrontational and no peace would be ensuing,” he says. “I know they’re training in bomb making and terrorist activities. I was informed by my informants within that they have invited bomb-makers of MILF as part of their tactical operations,” Relano says. The ceasefire committee of Major Hermoso and his MILF counterparts is meant to be gathering evidence of what goes on “in these disputed areas …but as of now, they have not been able to do that,” Relano says. And so it goes. Terrorists trained in Mindanao keep detonating explosives in public places, adding to the several hundred civilians killed and thousands wounded over
the past few years across South East Asia. The MILF spokesman, Kabalu, sent his sons to pick me up and so I sit in his Cotabato City house one night, struggling to wear down his ad nauseam denials of the guerrillas hosting terrorists in their camps. “Have JI ever trained in MILF areas?” I ask. “No.” “So why do so many JI terrorists say they have?” “What I believe is the source of this information, is that during the time that Chairman Salamat Hashim decided to open up Camp Abu Bakar to all walks of life … have gone to the area. Because the Chairman’s intention is to demonstrate somehow to the people of the world the kind of community that he envisioned to be established in this part of the world,” Kabalu says. “It March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 51
was a model community. That is why people from other parts of the world came to the area … Indonesia, Malaysia, even Thailander.” Kabalu leans back, aglow at the thought of his ideal world. Then he looks at me again. “We do not discount the possibility that some might have infiltrated at the time, but the idea there was not to invite terrorists, but to show to the world that we have this kind of community that would cater to the needs of our people, the Bangsamoro people,’ he says. I ask if the model community involved explosives training. “There might be some, but as far as the MILF is concerned we do not have a relationship or connections with this group,” he says. I tell him that JI defectors and captives have told investigators that they trained for up to three years in MILF camps. I tell him that the International Crisis Group reports that JI operatives had instruction in weapons, demolition, traditions of the Prophet, bombing, ambushes, Islamic law, jihad, and other essentials of contemporary militancy. “It’s a possibility,” Kabalu says. “But we made it very very clear that the academy … is only for the armed forces of the MILF. It is not for foreigner. In fact, outsider is not needed in the camp. But they are free to observe. There are some limitations, but as part of our campaign to expose the real intention of the MILF, we allow them to stay and observe. There might be some sort of possibility that they might, shall we say, manage to enter the camp. Maybe pretend as Tasaug [a Muslim tribe from which come most Abu Sayyaf] from Jolo, Basilan, or Zamboanga. Because facial identity – Indonesians look almost the same as Filipinos. This Malay race has very similar appearance,” Kabalu says. So Indonesian terrorists – including many of the Bali bombers – snuck into the MILF’s military classes, quietly living and training or up to three years, but no one noticed because they look like Filipinos. My head spins. I’m starting to feel that I’m in an alternate universe where all the world is a stage, but the actors are packing real guns. Turning the conversation to Australia, Kabalu says that the MILF did not have a problem with Prime Minister John Howard’s comments last year that he would launch attacks on terrorists overseas if they were planning strikes against Australians and local authorities did not seem to be stopping them. “If there’s really a terrorist cell here, why not?” Kabalu says. Furthermore, there was little the MILF could do to stop Australia, a country “groomed to become a superpower”, from attacking its camps. Yet, without an “honest investigation” preceding preemptive strikes, Howard’s actions would only complicate matters in Mindanao, Kabalu says. “Instead of using force, his concern about Mindanao and the issue of terrorism could be channelled to the peace process.” Rather than needlessly sending in the SAS, Australian officials are welcome to join the IMT’s MILF-supervised camping trips to destinations such as Jabal Quba. Such visits will “conclude it once and for all, because as far as the MILF is concerned, there is no terrorist haven in our area and in our camps”, Kabalu says. EPILOGUE The Philippines is in trouble. Terrorists and their allies control territory that the government cannot. From rebel sanctuaries, the Islamists perfect satchel and car bombs, and the use of electronic detonators, and absorb the religious indoctrination that allows them to justify the slaughter of commuters, tourists, shop assistants, church congregations and many others. That “son-of-a-gun JI” which 52, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
murdered 88 Australians and sent hundreds of others limping home is sitting pretty in the wilds of Mindanao, training new generations of terrorist commanders to replace those arrested, killed or snatched by the US. A culture of jaw-dropping denial flourishes in the Philippines, where many continue to take aim at foreign requests to take terrorism seriously. “Outdated” was how the chairman of the Filipino House committee on foreign affairs, Antonio Cuenco, recently described US travel warnings about possible terrorist attacks in the Philippines. “The Philippines has succeeded in addressing the threats posed by the terror groups Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group … JI, for its part, is now merely a ghost,” Cuenco told the Philippine press. The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gerry Salapuddin, agreed, saying that the terrorist threat was at its lowest. Salapuddin, who represents Basilan island, the birthplace of the Abu Sayyaf, dismissed the threat on three counts: the MILF’s involvement in peace talks; the MILF’s denial of links to JI, and a flying visit by the US ambassador to the Philippines, Francis Riccardione, to Jolo, which is listed as dangerous by the US State Department.
ohan Gunaratna says that Westerners must take Filipinos’ stoic nature into account when trying to comprehend what seems to outsiders like a lack of resolve about terrorism. “The Filipinos have a much higher capacity to take violence, even 100, 200, 300 people can die [without shocking the nation], because these are systemic problems and the Filipinos can live with these,” Gunaratna says. Terrorism is just one abrupt way to die in a country that offers many – an environment that cultivates the Filipinos’ apparent acceptance of some level of carnage. “They are not like Australians, Europeans or the Americans. They have a very high capacity for suffering,” Gunaratna says. Nevertheless, terrorism and lawlessness deter investment and feed the country’s fiscal woes, so the Filipino fatalism and casual hope in a duplicitous peace process is dangerous in many ways. The country badly needs leadership, Gunaratna says. More worrying, the Philippines’ flip-flopping, inattentive, rhetoric-rich yet follow throughpoor leadership, has led to growing calls for a return to dictatorship. Numerous politicians, business leaders, and even the chair of the Asian Institute of Management, have called for a return to authoritarian rule. It is a view that I heard from a wide cross section of average Joes in my travels. Until the terrorist groups are neutralised, “you must understand, the threat in South East Asia will eventually affect Australia,” Gunaratna says. More than attacks on bars and embassies, the terrorists will target shipping and significant economic assets, inflicting more mass casualties, but also seriously damaging trade in the region – and worsening the poverty of millions. Gunaratna says that Australia already offers intelligence assistance, but with constant revelations of corruption, ineptitude, and apparent collusion between elements of the army and its foes, “the real investment is to provide more extensive training to discipline the Filipino police and military.” Another valuable contribution would be offering legal expertise to help the Philippines develop counterterrorism legislation. Aborting the peace process would be a mistake, Gunaratna says. “The largest number of terrorists have been produced from re-
gional conflicts, such as Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mindanao, Kashmir, and Maluku. So it is important for us to have peace processes and resolve these conflicts wherever possible, and right now the MILF is willing to talk and I think we should not waste that opportunity,” he says. The ICG’s Collier agrees, saying that the long term solution lies in making the peace “agreement as attractive as possible. The more you can offer, the fewer discontents there will be”. Collier suggests that Australia could start funding the peace process to ensure it is more than a sham. “The local monitoring teams aren’t being properly funded. They have a very Spartan monthly allowance, and the Cotabato LMT hasn’t been paid in two
months. So if they’re sent out to investigate an incident, they have to pay for the petrol out of their own pocket. We’re not talking big money … it would be AUD $13,000 a month for all the LMTs,” Collier says. Other measures include giving the Philippine navy faster speedboats and other border security measures to stem the free flow of terrorists and weapons between the Philippines, and Indonesia and Malaysia. Yet the peace-first approach led to the MILF’s “model community”, where Camp Hudaibiyah quietly trained scores of mass murderers in how to best shred civilians in their war for Islamic totalitarianism. Right now, the training continues in other areas under MILF control, including Camp Jabal
Quba. When the US went into Basilan, the exercises were denounced by commentators from the right and left as American imperialism in action, yet it worked. Areas under MILF control need to be worked over with M16s, engineers, and aid workers. Mindanao needs to be freed from the vendetta system and its feudal warlords. Peace deals which hold the backwardness in place through autonomy deals with corrupt chieftains offer the average citizen little hope for a prosperous future. The lies, duplicity, and dangerous allegiances of the Philippines’ Islamic warlords will continue to threaten South East Asia until their lands are brought under the rule of law.
FRONTLINE TRADING BULLETS FOR BALLOTS
Photography: J P YIM, NIKOS PILOS, LARRY HILL 54, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 55
56, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 57
58, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 59
How is Karen Matthews turning Ella Baché into a great name in Australian skincare? JAMES MORROW learns the secrets of one of the country’s youngest CEOs
outh is the name of the game in the cosmetics and beauty business, but very few players in the industry put their money where their mouth is by hiring one of the youngest CEOs in Australian history – she was just 35 when she ascended to the boss’ chair – to turn it around. Not Ella Baché Australia, however, which in 1998 hired Karen Matthews to join the company with an eye towards making her Chief Executive Officer. It was a big risk for both Matthews and Ella Baché – at the time, the company was losing money – but it paid off big for both of them. Today the firm is flying high and expanding across Australia, and Karen Matthews was recently named Telstra’s NSW Businesswoman of the Year. Making it big in business was always in the cards for Matthews, who grew up outside Sylvania Waters, NSW, with a corporate executive father and a schoolteacher mother – a combination which goes a long way towards explaining not just her corporate savvy but her desire to teach others the lessons she’s learned along the way. As a freshly-minted commerce graduate with a major in marketing from the University of New South Wales, it would have been natural for Matthews, like so many with her degree before her, to hop right onto the product and brand management track. Instead, she entered the retail world, joining the Myer chain’s graduate trainee program, where she got to have a go at every section of the business. “I loved retail – it’s such a buzz. It’s constantly changing, there’s such a great variety of people, and it requires great gut instinct and 60, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
real creativity”, recalls Matthews, reflecting on her early days at Myer. Plus, she adds mischievously, “it’s great fun when you get to spend other people’s money!” Her tenure at Myer would eventually see Matthews move to Melbourne when the company consolidated operations there in 1990. Although she missed Sydney, while at Myer she learned valuable lessons that, she says, apply to anyone in their career. First among them: don’t be afraid to speak up. “One of the most important things I learned at Myer is, if you have a point of view, share it. Even if people don’t agree with you, letting people know what’s on your mind is the only way to develop a profile within an organization,” says Matthews, who further cautions that those who keep quiet “risk fading into the shadows, especially in a big corporation.” Her time in Melbourne taught her a lot, too, about how to get ahead in a large corporate structure, and also about some of the biggest pitfalls – especially to be careful of people with hidden agendas as well as what she calls “the art of the dysfunctional meeting”. Eventually, though, it was time to move back to Sydney with her husband Ian, an accountant. “It was great grounding to spend eight years at a corporation like Myer,” she says, but found her role in such a large organization, between meetings, office politics, and only being responsible for a relatively small part of the business, limiting. When an opportunity came in 1994 to join F.J. Benjamin, the Singapore-based fashion distributorship, she leapt at it. The differences between her new job, where she was responsible for setting up
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 61
“To be the first person to put your hand up and admit an error is a very strong thing to do, and people will respect you for it” licensees for such major international and American labels as Guess, Ann Taylor, and Brooks Brothers, and her old one, were headspinning. If Myer was all corporate politics and highly structured decision making, F.J. Benjamin was all about family, instinct, and what Matthews likes to call “gut”. “It couldn’t have been more extreme, coming from Myer,” Matthews recalls fondly. “F.J. Benjamin was a family business where the entire family was involved, and everything was done completely on instinct and emotion.” It was a great time in her career, she says, but also one that led to “major burnout.” “I learned an incredible amount about being flexible, rolling with the punches, and how to change fast,” she says, “but I was on the road all the time. By 1998 I had been at the company for four years, and I realized that over that time, I hadn’t spent more than six weeks in Australia at any one time.” Suddenly, she realized, it was time to go. Having told the F.J. Benjamin family she was leaving, Matthews looked forward to spending six months off and doing all the things she hadn’t had a chance to do when she was bopping from Europe to Australia to Asia and back in less time than you can say, “priority boarding.” Matthews had barely cleaned out her desk when the phone rang with what would turn into her chance to make corporate history. It was a headhunter on the line, saying that there was an opportunity for her to join a cosmetics and skincare company as a marketing manager. At first, says Matthews, her reaction was no, no and no: “I didn’t want to go back to work, I certainly didn’t want to go back to work as somebody’s yes-person, and I didn’t want to go work for a polished brand like Estee Lauder.”
hen she heard that the opportunity was with Ella Baché, and that they were not so much looking for a market ing manager as someone to be groomed to take over as chief executive officer. Matthews took the job as much for the opportunity to be CEO as the strength of the name itself: “There was something about the brand: it had a certain attitude to it, a real Australian larrikinism,” she says, noting that the company has sponsored an 18-foot racing skiff and the Sydney Swans. “I liked that there was a real element of living on the edge and that they embraced the rawer, unpredictable side of things – and one thing I’ve really encouraged here is for people to use their gut and intuition within a structured framework.” Of course, in taking on the role of CEO – she was elevated a scant six months after joining the firm – Matthews was also taking on a company that she says “lacked focus” and was losing around $1.5 million a year. (Thanks to Matthews’ stewardship, Ella Baché is now quite comfortably in the black). To turn things around, she had to act fast, and that meant that there was not a lot of time for on-thejob training. “It was a major learning period for me,” she says, but despite never having been responsible for so many people or processes before, Matthews was able to quickly find the keys to success. “One of the biggest challenges when you become CEO is that suddenly, you’re the boss, and everyone watches you and knows
62, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
what you are doing,” notes Matthews, reflecting on the sudden feelings of isolation she felt when she stepped into the lead role. But in this, she says, there are lessons for others who someday wish to sit in the boss’s chair: “As leader of the company, you have to lead by example and practice what you preach,” she says. “People really do care about when you come and go, and they are very watchful of whether you are in a good mood or not.” Matthews notes that, a few years ago, when she was feeling particularly run down for an extended period of time, people under her constantly monitored her movements in and out of the office, and even paid attention to whether she was looking particularly pale from one day to the next. This attention, combined with isolation, can make it difficult for any CEO to do their job, says Matthews, who was startled to find that even though her new job put her in charge of the company’s strategic vision, she was less and less able to call on colleagues for long-term thinking. One way she ameliorated this is to join a group called The Executive Connection, or TEC, which gives her a “safe space” to meet with other chief executives – almost all male, a benefit because “sometimes it’s great to get that male, cut-and-dried perspective on things” – and have a forum to bounce ideas off of and share experiences with. On a day-to-day level, of course, things are different: “As CEO, one is responsible for a whole range of functions, but for me, I had never really had any exposure to areas of the business like finance and operations,” she says. As a firm believer in the principle that strong leaders surround themselves with strong people, Matthews says that a good CEO “learns very quickly where they are weak, and finds good people to help manage them.” In that same vein, she says, one of the best lessons she has learned is that there is no shame in admitting a mistake: in fact, it can often times be an asset. Says Matthews, “to be the first person to put your hand up and admit an error is a very strong thing to do, and people will respect you for it.” One thing that Karen Matthews has never done is let her being a woman stand in the way of her goals – if anything, she says it’s been a plus in her career. “Sure, I’m not in the building or engineering industries, but I haven’t had any problems with a glass ceiling,” she reports, adding that she believes that being female has in many ways made her a better leader. “Being a woman and a chief executive, I really see the benefits as a leader,” she says. “Women are more intuitive, and I think that contemporary businesswomen are very comfortable in letting their emotions show and be part of the workplace, so long as that is structured within a framework.” Ultimately, says Matthews, the key to being a successful person or growing a successful business is not whether someone is male or female, but rather the blend of people that one is surrounded with: “The best companies are those that have a mix of sexes, ages, backgrounds and cultures working together. The more depth you have as a company, the more solid and effective you will be not just in the marketplace but as an employer with a great corporate culture.”
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 63
CREDIT LIMIT Owner or renter, boss or wage slave, the coming interest rate hike affects us all. Here’s what you need to know to survive
A James Morrow
ustralians are famous for their love their credit that people have one-third of their mortgage on a and, according to the latest government fig- honeymoon rate, with another third being fixed for ures, currently hold a record $28.2 billion debt five years and the last third being fixed for ten,” on their charge and credit cards alone. So it’s no won- advises Christine Davie, a certified financial planner der that the mere mention of a rise in interest rates with Melbourne-based Donohue Financial Planning. is about as welcome in many quarters as, say, dis- According to her, this is the best way to hedge one’s coursing on the potential for shark attacks is on bets as interest rates rise and fall over the period of Bondi Beach. the loan. “The banks have been giving away money as Yet all signs point to the Reserve Bank of Australia fast as they can for the last several years, and people lifting interest rates sometime this year, and possibly who are highly-geared should think about this.” within the next six months, with the economy conDavie adds that when it comes to interest rates, it’s tinuing to grow and the consumer price index edging not smart to go crazy trying to find the lowest rate – ever closer to the government’s outer-tolerance limit “it’s actually very hard to find the bottom of the marof three per cent per year. And when the rise comes, ket,” she says – but that does not mean mortgage it’s not likely to be that holders shouldn’t try temporary a situation, and at least do a deal either: economic forewith their individual When it comes to both hungry caster BIS Shrapnel’s bank. After all, notes sharks and rising rates, experts senior economist, MatDavie, everything’s neagree that a lot of panicky shrieking gotiable: “It’s often thew Hassan, has warned that an increasworth asking your and splashing about will only make ingly tight job market bank if that’s the best things worse will push wages up they can do. But just over the next two years, because the sign in the leading to higher prices and, ultimately, interest rates front window says ‘6 per cent’ doesn’t mean they won’t that are “expected to peak at around 8 per cent in come down if you ask, or even threaten to take your late 2006”. business elsewhere.” But there’s no need to cue the Jaws theme just yet. Meanwhile, for those Australians who don’t own Even if the cost of money – which is, in essence, their homes yet, but are looking to join the ranks of what interest rates represent – is poised to poke sky- first-time homeowners, this is a critical time – one in wards like the dorsal fin of a circling great white, there which careful planning can pay off big. is no need to panic. For when it comes to both hunThe first thing to remember is, bide your time. In gry sharks and rising rates, experts agree that a lot of fact, with interest rates heading north, there is “no panicky shrieking and splashing about will only make rush to get into the housing market right away,” says things worse. Damian Cullen, Managing Director of Cullen FinanHomeowners (who represent about seven out of cial Planning in Sydney. Instead, put your money every ten Australians) are obviously going to be the someplace smart: “When you’re looking to buy within first to feel the pinch, and should make sure their a twelve to twenty-four month timeframe, really the home financing is structured properly: “We suggest only place to be is in cash or fixed-interest invest-
64, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
ments,” cautions Cullen, who adds that when it comes to that crucial down-payment nest egg, “don’t even think of going near the share market”. The second thing to keep in mind (especially for young buyers) is that circumstances change. For example, says Christine Davie, just because a couple consists of two high-earning professionals today does not mean both parties will still be bringing home fat pay packets of five years ago. And the number one reason for this is kids. “People get married and buy a house and never think about what might happen if they only had one salary coming in, or if one of them decided to take time off to care for a child” she says. Thus couples often wind up either putting off having children, or find themselves in tough circumstances when kids do arrive with a lot of hard choices to make. Davie adds that even if both mum and dad keep working, children are expensive, and childcare can eat up an
awful lot of that second income. The old days of buying more home than one could afford may still make economic sense (though it’s an old financial planning chestnut born in the days when oneincome families were the norm, not the exception), but it can seriously interfere with one’s work-life balance. For both owners and renters then, rising interest rates can ultimately mean – either for direct or indirect reasons – less money in the kitty at the end of the week. Smart planning now, says Davie, can avoid a lot of pain later: “If you have personal debt and loans and credit cards, this is the time to consolidate things,” she says. “And maybe, if you find that you keep getting into trouble, you should even think about cutting up the credit cards”. Meanwhile, companies as well as individuals are poised to feel the effect of an interest rate rise, according to George Etrelezis, Managing Director of Western Australia’s Small Business Development March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 65
Corporation, and business owners will feel it in a variety of ways. “First of all, there is the straight bottom-line effect that interest rates have on the cost of borrowing, whether for purchasing equipment or obtaining working capital, and interest rates also factor in to leasing costs and replacement costs,” says Etrelezis, who adds that “there’s certainly an effect that rates have on the dollar coming in the door of a business. And as consumer sentiment dips as they have less money to spend, this means that various industries like the building trades will suffer as people decide to, say, put off building an extension to their home”.But there are other and more pernicious ways in which businesses may feel the pinch as well, and this is where Australian entrepreneurs need to keep a close eye out in coming months. Unless their business is a bank, they need to make sure their customers don’t treat them like one. “Debtors will quickly start to become an issue for businesses,” says Etrelezis, “and there will be more and more of them who will try and extend their terms of credit. And it makes sense: with the cost of money going up from the banks, they will try and get cash somewhere else,” even if it means stepping on your goodwill. As a result, the mantra that (especially for small businesses) “cash flow is king” becomes ever more important. Etrelezis says all business owners must start to think like the big boys, who are very strict about their payment terms and are not afraid to enforce them. “Be disciplined, and if someone goes too far beyond their 30 days, don’t be afraid to turn away their business. Remember: you can’t afford to let a regular customer slide for 60 or 90 or 120 days, and if they go down they will take that cash flow down with them”. Finally, as tempting as it is to focus solely on interest rates at home, smart planning means keeping an eye on what’s happening beyond Australia’s shores as well. According to Geoff O’Neill, Man-
66, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
aging Director and CEO of Advantage One, a financial planning and investment counseling firm which caters to high net worth clients in Adelaide, interest rates in the United States are about to make a move as well – something to bear in mind when making investment decisions. “If you look at the U.S., their rates are at a historic low, while their economy is moving into a period with improved economic fundamentals. And as their economy expands, we’ll start to see American interest rates edge up to keep a lid on growth”, says O’Neill, who adds that this will probably knock some value off the Australian dollar. “Our dollar looks strong right now, but that’s really a reflection of the weakness of the U.S. Dollar,” he points out. “As we see an improving economy in the States leading to an increase in rates, then we can also see the Australian Dollar falling back closer to the .70 mark,” something that will affect our balance of trade and the performance of exporting versus importing companies. While those two sectors will likely balance themselves out on the equity markets, O’Neill cautions that when it comes to the share market in general, it’s time for investors to get realistic and says that “this current rate of growth is not sustainable, and we must get more focused on achieving the real rate of return out of equity markets, which should be something like 10 percent or less – and certainly not 18 to 25 per cent.” It can be easy in Australia to get used to living in a place where low interest rates and virtually full employment rule the day, and where the economy regularly weathers storms that lay low the finances of other countries. But while a rise in interest rates might be unpleasant – especially for the unprepared – it’s also the sort of medicine that can keep other more unpleasant numbers (like inflation and unemployment) down as well.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 67
BRIGHT SHINY THINGS These new gadgets provide plenty of distraction
ure plasma pleasure is the promise of Fujitsu’s latest flat-screen TVs. Featuring Advanced Video Movement (AVM) technology, high resolution XGA e-ALIS technology, and some pretty gorgeous accessories to boot, these are some of the slickest televisions on the planet – and they look great even if they’re turned off. Which they don’t need to be, thanks to improved phosphor technology that extends panel life to a whopping 60,000 hours.
ang & Olufsen’s A8 earphones are some of the lightest (weighing in at just 22 grams) and most sophisticated on the market. The sleek anodized aluminium design allows them to be virtually sculpted to the needs of the wearer, and each pair comes with its own stylish leather carrying case.
68, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
ose, a classic name in speaker technology, has taken home listening to another level with their new Lifestyle 48 system. Intelligent listening systems and extension features allow for listening in practically any room of the house, one never needs to be tuneless again. Combined with the systemâ€™s ability to account for the acoustics and favourite viewing positions for powerful home theatre and moving music, the new Bose home entertainment systems bring listening to life.
he Nokia 9300 combines popular voice communication features with important productivity applications in one well-appointed device. Now the tools you need to stay in touch and on top of schedules, email, news, and messages are conveniently at your fingertips. The modern design of the Nokia 9300 is the first indicator of the sophisticated features that lie within. Sleek and compact, the device opens to reveal a full keyboard and wide 65,536color screen. Stay organized throughout the day using the Nokia 9300. You can use the built-in calendar to set reminders for important events, access the tasks list to write a memo or shopping list, and browse the Internet to look up directions, find a business address or recommend a good place to meet for dinner. It is easy to synchronize data on the Nokia 9300 with applications on your PC using Nokia PC Suite software, so that the most up-to-date information is stored on each device.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 69
Paul Wright takes a caffeinated tour of Sydney’s suburbs to test go-anywhere broadband
he setup procedure for my new Unwired when a page won’t refresh. Also, the modem needs broadband modem was extremely fast and to be physically switched off after use. This is an friendly. Four clicks and I was off to the car to entirely new habit to form, and for the first few days, test whether mobile internet access really means mo- expect the modem battery to be as flat as a pancake bile as in “while driving from place to place”, or every morning. mobile as in dangling in one spot while slowly turnStarbucks, Park Street, City. Reception: off the ing around and around while singing “It’s a Small chart. Load speed: excellent. Service: where’s my triple World After All” as the parents weep quietly in the espresso?! These people are moving at the speed corner of the baby’s room because all they want is just of mud. one night of sleep, is that too much to ask? Make sure the computer you are using has an First stop: Birdies’ Cafe, Alexandria. Fast call to ethernet port. That’s the one that looks like an overthe Good Lady Wife because I forgot to bring the weight telephone socket. Without it, you’ll have demo password, and I was off into the wild blue to deal with the mutants at Tandy as they gibber internet. Popular myth has the first telephone call be- incomprehensibly about what sort of cable you need ing from Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant while making insulting comments about your manWatson to help him with an acid burn. In a remark- hood because you actually require assistance with able coincidence, the first Unwired email I received your computer. was an eerie reflection of Bell’s plea; it begins “Mr Big roundabout, Sydney Park, Alexandria. Watson, I need you...to help get $93 million out of Reception: poor; connection dropped out. Repeated the Bank of Lagos.” laps of roundabout failed to regain signal. Other The tests were performed using a Toshiba Pentium motorists increasingly rude. Decided not to explain 3 600 notebook, test websites chosen for load speed reason for driving behavior. Left before police were the Sydney Morning Herald, arrived.Since this is a free demo as a popular local website with account, I decided to test e-mail Interesting thought: medium graphics content, and load speed by signing up for every instapundit.com, a very popular Will mobile broadband possible spam site, porn offer US website with low graphic conand scam letter I could get my spell an end to fights tent. Most tests were performed hands on. I want every part of over bar bets? in business hours.I recommend my body enhanced and enlarged turning on the “Reception with cheap generic medicines supAssistant” whenever going online from a new loca- plied to me by the wife of the former Chief of the tion. Without this, there is no way to tell why the Army of Nigeria. And Hot College Chicks will then system is not connecting. Want To Meet Me Now. Cafe Bianchi, Summer Hill. Reception: four bars. Blackwattle Bay park, walking the dog. Or rather, Download speed: good. Watching: movie trailers from sitting down while the dog chases the trams on the Hoyts.com.au. Coffee: excellent. People: ugly. overhead railway. Computer says it has many, many The modem has no battery indicator, so user won’t spyware programs. Decide to download and install notice when it tanks. Like the reception, this is irritat- Ad-aware software. Reception: hovering between 2-3 ing in extremis, and means one more thing to check bars. Download speed for a 2Mb program file: 8 min-
70, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
utes. I mean, sitting in the middle of a sunny park, no visible means of communication, and it takes 8 minutes to reach out across the other side of the world to get a free program that will prevent marketers from tracking my internet movements? Eight minutes! May as well be living in Russia! As an aside, it’s worth noting that the software used by Unwired cannot be exported to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya or North Korea. So if you were planning on making a killing re-exporting wireless broadband to countries that still communicate by writing notes on their enemy’s livers, think again. Note to Unwired: when I’m driving over the Harbour Bridge and need to email ahead to have someone open the wine, I do not want to have to wait to get a connection. A man is not a camel, you know. A glance through the User Guide produces some interesting examples of Tech-Speak. My favourite came at the top of the document, where they urged me to put in the Quick-Start CD to assist in installing the User Guide. Perhaps this is included to throw those annoying North Koreans off the scent. When using the Unwired modem in a public space, the signal strength can be enhanced by holding the modem up higher, placing it next to a window, or moving g it about the room. While this may have an effect on connection speed, it will definitely make sure everyone in the restaurant knows you’re an Unwired user and therefore at the bleeding edge of technology. As with every other broadband service provider, reading Unwired’s pricing plans rapidly causes glazedeye induced bouts of keyboard face. If your boredom threshold is
so high you are willing to pay extra for the grass-growing cable channel, I commend you to the pricing plan page. For the rest of us, I recommend choosing blindly, and hope there isn’t a kidney forfeit clause in the fine print. Interesting thought: will mobile broadband spell an end to fights over bar bets? Who will resort to fisticuffs over the level of influence Seneca had over Pliny the Elder (well it comes up where I drink), when the dashing Unwired user can swiftly settle the matter to the satisfaction of all parties? One significant problem with the Unwired system is that you can’t tell if it will work in your house or place of business, until you actually purchase the whole deal, get it delivered, install it, and spend a few hours shouting at the screen to get it running. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, but in the meantime, you’ve parted with some hundreds of the readies, and signed up for a year-long contract, which you now have to inveigle your way out of. There probably isn’t a way around this, but it’s still annoying. For instance, the on-line mapping of coverage in Sydney tells me I have access from my house. I relayed this slowly and loudly to the Connection Assistant, to little avail. No connection. All in all, Unwired is a nifty system that portends serious changes to the way we will do business in the future. For home use, it is more cumbersome, and less reliable, than a wireless LAN, but Unwired still offers speed and big-time convenience for road warriors. To say nothing of that increasingly rare commodity, major pose value. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 71
MORE THAN JUST A CHILLY PLACE The moon’s still out there, but what is it good for? Maybe the next century of Asian economic growth, says Pat Sheil
ince Eugene Cernon closed the hatch on the he could achieve an impossible “four nine” reliability, Apollo 17 lunar module and hit the grunt but- by which he meant that 99.99% percent of his ton, the moon has been a very quiet place. We’re launches would succeed. Word around Houston was used to the idea now, but in the early 70s the notion that he achieved this by asking his sycophantic fellow of a deserted moon in 2005 would hardly have seemed German scientists “Is there anything wrong with credible. We were meant to have Holiday Inns on this design?” only to hear “Nein”, “Nein”, Mars by now, right? “Nein”, “Nein”.) The are good reasons why none of this has hapBut things may be about to change. For space to be pened, not the least of which is that once we knew it worthy of investment, it has to generate a return, and could actually be done, going to the moon quickly at the moment the only money is in communications lost the lustre of heroic achievement and became just and imaging satellites, because they actually deliver a another budget line item. If there isn’t a quid in it, saleable product. The moon, on the face of it, is a and all the prestige value has been milked, then it’s desert. But then so was Western Australia in the 1880s. time to mothball the idea until there’s a good reason The moon may be about to have its first gold rush. to do it again. A profit angle sure wouldn’t hurt. The gold, in this case, is helium 3. Helium 3 is a very But governments are lousy at making money – rare isotope of helium which accumulates on the remember the hype about moon from the solar drug companies whipwind, but exists in tiny The moon, on the face of it, is a quantities on Earth. The ping up miracle cures in zero G aboard the shuttle desert. But then so was Western reason it glitters, from an and the space station? economic viewpoint, is Australia in the 1880s With no whiz-bang, fronthat it looks like the best tier busting purpose, the fuel for the nuclear fusion shuttle has proved to be the greatest lemon in the power plants that we’ve been promised for the last history of transportation, largely because it had fifty years. If fusion can be made to work, it will change nowhere to go and nothing to do when it got there. the energy market in ways that haven’t been seen since Since the Columbia disaster the lemon has mutated the discovery of electricity. And the people who coninto a grapefruit. NASA is so terrified of losing trol the He3 supply will get very, very rich. another one that they have restricted its use to deliverSure, there are a lot of “ifs” here, but that’s never ing odds and ends to the space station, a destination stopped speculative investors from sniffing around in name only. One more prang and the remaining scenarios that promise mountains of money. These two will go straight into museums. things have a habit of snowballing, and recent events The shuttle has become, in the minds of NASA, have put the moon back on the table, as it were. an accident waiting to happen, and if you or I lived by For one thing, George W. Bush has made wacky the new NASA definition of “acceptable risk” we’d all pronouncements about “going back to the moon and wrap ourselves in cotton wool and crawl under a rock on to Mars”. These can largely be ignored, because it for the rest of our lives. (There is a beautiful story on ain’t going to happen, not the way he envisages it, this subject dating back to the early days of the Apollo anyway. Most of us will be long dead before there’s a program. Werner von Braun had assured NASA that Mars base. But he will be throwing money at the idea,
72, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
if only by gutting other NASA programs. The space caper, from a purely business perspective, is a lot more sophisticated than it was the last time big government moon money was flying around, and there are companies now that will want a bigger slice of the action than sub-contracting work on engines and paint jobs. Secondly, there are new players. Take the Soviets out of the game, and throw in Europe, Japan, India and China. These last three especially have very serious long-term energy problems. They have serious short term energy problems for that matter, but by 2050 these nations will have found new sources of energy or they will have imploded. All of these countries are launching moon probes in the next few years. Europe’s Smart-1 arrived in lunar orbit in November. Japan launches one next year. India and China have both announced moon shots by 2007. All of them will be doing mineralogical surveys. They are not doing this for fun. Sure, there’s an element of flagwaving in it all, especially in China’s case, but there’s also the small matter of possession being nine-tenths of, well, everything. D.J. Lawrence, planetary scientist at the US Los Alamos National Laboratory was in India in November addressing the International Conference on Exploration and Utilization of the Moon being held in the northern city of Udaipur. “Potentially there are large reservoirs of helium 3 on the moon,” he said. “Just doing reconnaissance where the minerals are and to find out where helium 3 likes to
hang out is the first step, so when the reactor technology gets to work we are ready and have precise information. “It really could be used as a future fuel and is safe. It is not all science fiction.” But what of the 1984 UN Moon Treaty, which forbids nations from making territorial claims on the moon, or anywhere else in the solar system? Australia is a signatory. Significantly, the USA and China are not, and with stakes this high, they’re not likely to ratify any time soon. But even if they did, there’s nothing in the treaty, or the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which forbids corporations claiming territory. And this may be a clue as to how this will eventually pan out. Space agencies like NASA are already looking at the sub-orbital flights of Spaceship One last year that took out the US$10 million X Prize, and coming up with their own prize schemes. NASA has announced the Centennial Challenge prizes, which may soon top US$200 million, for private projects including robotic lunar landings and sample return missions. It’s not that hard to conceive of a multinational mining corporation teaming up with an aerospace company and taking a punt on something like this, especially when success could reap not only tens of millions of dollars to recoup the initial investment, but also put them in pole position when the gun goes off in the claim-staking race. You can almost hear ‘em now. “Treaty? Don’t apply to us – we’re the Lunar Energy Corporation, not the US Government!” March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 73
DON’T WORRY, DIE HAPPY Are party drugs really the best way to make a cancer patient’s last days more livable?
A Claire Morrow
side from those who die suddenly in acci- studies, and are of the “qualitative”, or anecdotal, kind: dents, quietly in their sleep, or simply sitting see what happens, and then know what to look at if at the dinner table, a good proportion of the it progresses to the level of a drug trial. Essentially, population gets not only a fair bit of advance warning they are pre-trial trials. that their time is almost up, but also a rough estimate (This is not the first time since the heady days of of when that will be. That diva of death, Elisabeth Timothy Leary that U.S. researchers have toyed with Kübler-Ross, counseled coming to terms with and illegal drugs to treat various mental conditions: the embracing death as a part of life, seeing it as a “transi- University of Arizona has lately reported success ustion” to a better place. She was quite a morbid little ing psilocybin to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, lady though – and perhaps a little impatient for death while in Charleston, South Carolina, MDMA is being to come as well, having spent so much time preparing studied in victims of violence who are suffering post for it. traumatic stress disorder.) On the other side of the coin, there are those of us What some medical researchers have discovered is who would prefer to achieve immortality through not that ecstasy can make people happy. And expansive. dying. Being firmly in this And positive about themcamp, I plan a last-minute selves and at one with the panic, followed by world and like, man, Myself, I’d like anything in my months of denial – but there’s like love, just like, subconscious to stay put, and having spent several years everything is love, you thus avoid both psychotherapy know? Feeling like this, working in aged care, my experience is that very few they reckon, is better than and hallucinogenic drugs for people actually spit the being fearful and anxious, this reason dummy completely when as most cancer patients are given notice. Still, there is to some degree. What if psychological work to do to wrap up a life, and it is we could make them happy? Give them tools to make painful to watch a patient who is trying to achieve the work of wrapping up a life and preparing for some measure of acceptance and reconciliation but is death a little easier? Or just generally unbridle the exhausted by the effort. unconscious, facilitate communication with family, and Which brings up the question: how much inter- defy the poet to go gently into that good night? vention is appropriate to help this process along? Some In the Harvard and UCLA studies, the patients will people these days are answering, “a lot”. Pending a be evaluated, given low-to-moderate doses of drugs license from the US Drug Enforcement Administra- in the company of a psychiatrist, and then spend a fair tion (DEA), Harvard will this year commence an FDA- few number of consecutive hours talking it all out. approved trial of MDMA, better known as the party And then do it again a few weeks later. The studies drug ecstasy, in end-stage cancer patients suffering from aim to see if this helps people to deal with end of life severe anxiety. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, the Harbor- issues. Certainly, most of the unpleasant side effects UCLA Medical Centre is trialing the use of psilocybin could be controlled in this very controlled setting. The (the active in ingredient magic mushrooms) in termi- idea seems to be that these are patients who may not nally ill cancer patients. But these are all very small have the time and energy for an in-depth rigorous
74, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
sorting through of the subconscious issues in guided psychotherapy: if they are uninhibited and happy, it can all get done a lot quicker. Myself, I’d like anything in my subconscious to stay put, and thus avoid both psychotherapy and hallucinogenic drugs for this reason. But putting aside the issue of how the process could be patented to make money, and determined to be safe, and then approved ten years hence, would anyone really want to find a psychiatrist to sit and talk with them for six hours at a stretch? Furthermore, how much damage might a “bad trip” do to someone in their last days? And if dad has always been a cranky old bugger, will it really help the family to hear him waxing lyrical under the influence? My own feeling is that there wouldn’t be a lot of takers for this kind of treatment, and that they would be a fairly self-selecting group. But what if it took off? Personally, I don’t like the idea. It rings wrong to me, and I have been trying to find a way to come at it reasonably.
Debating the idea of using hallucinogens like this often leads to overwrought fears about a dystopian, mood-managed future á la Huxley’s Brave New World, and brings up a lot of the same issues that came up when it was discovered that Prozac could not just cure depression, but smooth out challenging personality traits. There are, if you tilt your head and squint, some interesting ethical dilemmas here, but the reality is — as for the overwhelming majority of drugs that are tested for any medical use — that cost, profitability, patentability and practicality, as well as safety and the broader concerns of the community may well be immovable obstacles standing in the way of Nana ever getting high. This small wave of tests involving medical mushrooms and prescription party drugs will probably die out with the patients in the studies, and people will continue to wrap up their lives in much the same ways they always have. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 75
FOOD & DRINK
THE VAST WASTELAND Australia’s cable cooking programs give Eli Jameson tummy trouble
s Foxtel holding Neil Perry’s dog hostage some of prep chefs around to do the scut work), the three where in the bowels of its Pyrmont broadcasting also preach a gospel of simplicity which holds that facility? The question would almost be worth ask- cooking should be easy, not intimidating, and most ing, given the amount of time the celebrity chef and of all, not time-consuming. Endless chopping, bastRockpool owner spends schilling for the cable pro- ing, and roasting are out; a quick sear in the grill pan vider and submitting to mock interviews about why and a drizzle with a just-whisked dressing before rejoining one’s guests for another champers in the he’s so in love with his new digital cable setup. Of course, that’s a bit over the top. Foxtel doesn’t backyard is in. One almost never sees a “hero” – the need to use standover tactics to get Perry to lend a pre-prepared dish that went into the oven ages hand any more than Range Rover does to get Perry to ago to be pulled out at just the right moment in drive one of their cars. (As a “Land Rover Ambassa- shooting – on these shows, since everything is quickly dor”, that company’s website tells us, “Neil Perry drives tossed together a la minute, as they say in the a Range Rover which perfectly represents his position restaurant business. This is all very well and good, but those of us who as one of the countries leading chefs owning and operating the famous Rockpool and XO restaurants actually like to muck about in the kitchen, get excited when zucchini flowers in Sydney.”) Instead, the show up in the shops, cable provider simply airs Now really, in 2005 Australia, and never buy pre-made series after series of Perrythemed programming, do we need to be told that Italian ravioli because it’s so much more fun to make including his deadly-dull delis are great places to pick up one’s own, I think. Or restaurant infomercial good cheese and olives rather, back in the heat of known as “Neil Perry’s the kitchen, while everyRockpool Sessions.” As a result of all this publicity, Perry has catapulted one else sits in the lounge room watching Bill himself into that upper firmament of brand-name Granger’s family scramble over each other to eat breakcelebrity chefs that includes former Perry employee fast in bed. At least Ian Hewitson (a pioneer Melbourne resKylie Kwong and Sydney café owner Bill Granger – who, in keeping with the small-world nature of the taurateur in his own right), with all his sponsored Australian food world, once worked with Kwong as brand loyalties, spends most of his show, Huey’s Cookwell. (This is in contrast to such great Australian chefs ing Adventures, actually cooking. Which makes the fact as Tim Pak Poy, who for years ran one of the best that he once told viewers to make garlic mayonnaise restaurants in the country but generally stayed out of by first glopping a few spoonfuls of store-bought mayo into a bowl almost forgivable. the limelight). Sure, that may seem lazy, but it’s nothing compared Close business histories are not all the three have in common. Perry, Kwong and Granger share an admi- to Granger, who thinks twenty minutes stirring rable belief that consumers should demand the risotto is a chore and once spent an entire segment of freshest ingredients possible, a philosophy that has his Lifestyle Channel program explaining that Italian led to better quality and diversity on Australian shelves. delis are great places to buy ready-to-eat picnic supAnd, on their shows at least (when there isn’t an army plies. Now really, in 2005 Australia, do we need to be
76, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
WONDER FROM DOWN UNDER Gin is generally thought of as a historically British spirit – think District Commissioners touching it with bitters on the verandah at the end of a hard day administering their particular corner of the Empire, or the very English Col. Henderson berating the help for putting ice in the G&Ts in The Year of Living Dangerously – but it actually has a very international history. Invented by the Dutch (hence the phrase “Dutch courage”) in the 1600s, the British took to it in droves during the reign of William and Mary, and later discovered mixing it with tonic water was an agreeable way to ward off malaria. But today some of the best gin in the world isn’t being produced in Northern Europe, but much closer to home in New Zealand. Sold in a tall, sleek bullet of a bottle, South’s makers advise that their customers “leave the tonic in the fridge” – and they’re right. This is a gin that exists on an entirely different plane. Martini drinkers who would never think of sullying their cocktail shaker with anything but Bombay Sapphire will suddenly wonder how they had spent so many years in the wilderness. Because the thing about South is that it is as smooth as a newborn’s skin, the result of a double-distilling process that creates a grain-neutral spirit that works as incredibly clean canvas for the brewer. From there, traditional ingredients such as juniper berries (of course), lemon, orange, and coriander seeds are added – as well as some very new world ingredients, including manuka berries and kawakawa leaves. The end result is a gin that, despite the high alcohol content, lets drinkers play with it almost like a wine, picking out various flavors that come and go as it passes through the mouth. Just a touch of vermouth and a quick shake-andstrain with some very cold ice is all that’s needed to bring it to life. South’s parent company also sells fantastic premium vodka called 42 Below – a reference to their distillery’s line of latitude – in a variety of flavours. Their manuka honey vodka, chilled to the point where it starts to get a little syrupy, is particularly delicious.
told that Italian delis are great places to pick up good cheese and olives? Thus those looking to TV to improve their skills in the kitchen in a serious manner – and not just pick up a new way to combine seared salmon, sesame oil, and Asian greens – have to look abroad, especially to the UK, to do so. (If someone had told me, a decade ago, that today most of my cookbooks would be by British chefs, I would have asked them if they also saw a serious taste bud-injuring accident in my future). Nigella Lawson, for one, is a great believer in celebrating the techniques of cooking, and is absolutely unapologetic about the fact that time and effort spent in the kitchen is in no way mutually exclusive with having a good time. Fellow Briton Gary Rhodes, meanwhile, manages to combine a passion for fresh ingredients with an instinctual feel for the fine line that separates what is chal-
lengingly possible in the home kitchen to that which makes ambitious solo chefs pull their hair out, pour another glass of wine, and order pizza instead. And even Jamie Oliver, behind his luverlyjubberly cockney routine, still manages to cram an awful lot of ideas and “hey-I-didn’t-know-that” tips into his show. It’s a shame, though, that a country that likes to think of itself as sophisticated about food and where a woman can lose the chance to lead her political party because her kitchen isn’t sleek enough is not producing more chefs who want to share their knowledge and do their part to increase viewers’ skills. Certainly there is a market for it, if the demand for books and programs by the likes of Lawson and Oliver is any indication. Maybe Perry and Co. are worried that if too many secrets get out, Australians will stop going to their restaurants for the really challenging stuff and start doing it themselves. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 77
PLEASURE ISLAND Mauritius is a relatively undiscovered jewel in the Indian Ocean – so get there before everyone else does
orget the South Pacific or Caribbean: it’s the DAY 1: Grand Baie Indian Ocean that home to some of the world’s At Mauritius’ most popular tourist center, you’ll be best island hotspots. And one of the greatest visually overloaded by the white sand and blue water. of them all is the Republic of Mauritius, a uniquely Some quick orientation: Grand Baie is about 18 kilomulticultural African island east of Madagascar. It is metres north of Port Louis and easily accessible by so beautiful that Mark Twain wrote upon arrival: “You the regular, albeit slow, Mauritian bus system. gather the idea that Mauritius was made first and then In the late morning, after a breakfast of fresh juice heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” and fruit, cruise the sheltered bay and you’ll feel the British, Indian and French influences make this relaxed energy that makes a visit here a must. If you’ve destination a multicultural dream which sets Mauri- done your research or picked up a brochure or two tius apart from other destinations – as does its bar- from your hotel’s lobby, you will be itching to do gain-basement vacation rates, which are more than Grand Baie’s most renowned water-related activities. fair for a true tropical paradise. Everything from yachting and snorkeling to waterOne heads to Mauritius to relax, enjoy the beach skiing and simply swimming is available. The perfect and all it has to offer, and direct flights from Perth weather (it is so regularly sunny, you can set your watch and Sydney make getting there a relative breeze. Even by it) allows for prime conditions for all these excibetter, travelers can get by on $10 to $20 a day for ting opportunities, which come free of charge at food, and $40 to $80 a day for lodging. When you many resorts. consider what you get (the sun, beach, and aquatic If you want a snapshot of the beautiful reefs withactivities) this really is a steal. out getting wet, take a ride on La Nessee, a semi-subThere are a wide variety of hotels and resorts to stay mersible boat that gets up close and personal with all at, including those run by Beachforms of aquatic life. Other out-ofcomber Hotels, providing a range of the-ordinary activities include an It is so regularly quality resort hotels with locations undersea walk, à la a Jules Verne to match. Featuring superb accomnovel. Wearing an astronaut-like sunny, you can set modation, high standards of servhelmet and lead boots, you can your watch by it ice, outstanding quality, plus a host explore the Mauritian waters withof inclusions, spending time in any out having to swim up to the surof these resorts is a pleasure. One can enjoy the thrill face for air. Deep-sea fishing is also highly popular of water-skiing or windsurfing, work off some ex- and available in the outlying areas of Grand Baie. cess energy on the tennis or volleyball court, or marvel After outdoing yourself for a few hours enjoying at the spectacular underwater world from a glass-bot- one or more of these unique experiences, hit a restautom boat. And for a nominal fee golfers can enjoy a rant to quell your hunger. Just outside of the beach round on one of the most spectacular resort courses area, you’ll see why Grand Baie is often called the Cote in the world, located at the Paradis resort. d’Azur of Mauritius – the shops and eateries reflect To further tantalize you and provide a taste of all the trendy areas around them and are not tourist traps this country has to offer, I’ve prepared a packed three- in any sense. day itinerary, for which all you need to bring is a bathDine at Sakura Restaurant for prime Japanese fare ing suit, suntan lotion and a relaxed attitude. or Lotus of the Garden for original cuisine in an In-
78, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
donesian setting. For true local Creole food, you’ll have to look at smaller, more intimate places around town. Walk off the big meal by heading down Sunset Boulevard, a fashion center with unbeatable prices. After picking up new threads, head back to the restaurant area for some crafts and boutique shops which feature native art, Asian handicrafts and cheap jewelry. Drop off the loot back at your hotel (if you’re staying in Grand Baie) and then prepare for a night out on the town. DAY 2: Ile aux Cerfs For only 80 Mauritian rupees (just under $4) tourists and locals alike can experience a living, breathing paradise. This is how much the 20-minute ferry ride costs for you to travel from Pointe Maurice to Ile aux Cerfs, an islet on the east coast of Mauritius. A disclaimer: if you are staying near Port Louis in the west, you’ll have to take a long bus ride to get here. Try and arrive as early in the morning as possible, since you need the whole day to enjoy the island. Any effort to reach this slice of beauty is worth it. This will become evident once you set foot on the island’s sprawling beaches. From this vantage point, you can see the enticing lagoon waters, prime sunbathing spots and straw-roofed bars, restaurants and shops. Start out the day with what Mauritius is all about: relaxing on the beach. Pick an area (secluded spaces are available if you want to spend time looking) grab a book and just let time slip by. The sun, sound of the surf and lazy atmosphere will make you forget about all your stress in an instant. Sleep has been known to set in for most of the sunbathers at Ile aux Cerfs. When you do wake up from your slumber, sit back at Lor Brizan Bar with a traditional afternoon tea, or, if you want something that packs a little more punch, a Pina Colada. There is also a very convenient beach bar service as well. Follow this up by taking a walk around the accessible section of the island’s coast (the whole walk takes 3 hours if you’re up to it) and the fact that there is heaven on earth will finally sink in – the view of the palm trees, ocean and sand is indescribable. Grab an exotic sorbet from one of the beachside kiosks – but don’t savor it too long. The island’s last ferry ride out is at 5 p.m. and an overnight stay is prohibited. DAY 3: Port Louis Finish off your trip to tropical paradise with
something a little different. Mauritius puts its history and many-layered culture out for all to see in the capital of Port Louis. A relatively large city, considering how small Mauritius is, a lot of interesting sight-seeing opportunities await you here. A good starting point is Place d’Armes in the oldest region of the city. Check out the interesting buildings here, as well as the St. James and St. Louis Cathedrals. The Port Louis Market is nearby and represents a good place to grab some lunch. It is a prime place
to see Mauritians in their comfort zone, haggling for fruits, vegetables, fish, crafts, and spices. The multiculturalism of the city is most obvious here, where people from all races and walks of life congregate daily. Remember that sellers can spot tourists a mile away and will not hesitate to quadruple prices for the souvenirs you want. To counteract this, make like locals and bargain like mad. You shouldn’t have trouble in English, since it is as widely spoken as Creole and French. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 79
TRAVELTIPS: ■ Petty crime is an issue in Port Louis and the main tourists spots, so watch your wallet and valuables at all times. ■ All travelers to Mauritius must already have a return ticket booked – proof of this is needed at the airport. The good news is, Australians don’t need a visa; just showing up with a passport lets you stay for thirty days. ■ Don’t be limited only by the beaches mentioned here: Mauritius has many other great ones as well, including Belle Mare and Flic en Flacq. ■ Tourism is increasing by 10% each year, so get on board before everyone else does!
Return to Place d’Armes and find a bench or table to sit and munch at the exotic fruits bought back at the market. When that’s done, get more tastes of the varying cultures by visiting the Muslim quarter, centered around Muammar El Khadafi Square. Funny enough, the main mosque, Jummah, is not situated here. You’ll find it in the city’s bustling Chinatown area, another place worth taking a look at. As evening comes along, you’ll find that most of the city closes down. The one shining star now is Le Caudan Waterfront, a bustling area with shops, restaurants and bars. If you want to drop 80, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
more money on souvenirs, try Le Talipot or Macumba. As for dinner, ignore the fact that the area has become somewhat Americanized (there’s a Pizza Hut) and sit down at Grand Ocean City for Chinese or Kela Patta for Indian food. Though it rarely needs to prove itself, Mauritius is so much more than your typical island resort. You can be astounded by its beaches, beautiful people, relaxing opportunities, and diverse cultures all at once. Add to this string of pros the cheap cost of experiencing it all and there leaves little doubt that Mauritius is an ideal vacation spot. Take it all in, you won’t regret it. –AskMen.com
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 81
OVERDONE EGGERS But Q & A answers plenty of questions
HOW WE ARE HUNGRY By Dave Eggers
San Francisco. McSweeney’s Books 2004 ISBN: 1932416137. Available on import, and currently stocked by unusually good book shops. To be released by Penguin Australia in May, 2005. Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, has compiled a list of factors that compel people to write: ‘Free time. Technology. Material. Education. And disgust’. People are working less and living longer; computers are everywhere, spell-check included; anything goes; we are constantly being told where to put our commas; there is so much bad writing out there and there’s the belief that people are making money from it. Disgust provokes an I can do better than that mentality that has created the hordes of story-telling punks now being published all over the place. Dave Eggers is one of their leaders, and How We Are Hungry is a collection of fifteen of his short stories. But don’t let that put you off: short stories are changing again, and for the better. Traditional surprise endings à la Roald Dahl are on the rise, while academic experimentation is out. The market for these pieces is still slim with the number of stories being written greatly outweighing the number of people who are willing to read them. With everyone rushing off to writing workshops, this situation worsens daily. In the New York Review of Books (October), Diane Johnson articulated a hope that the genre is making a come-back: ‘Readers and nonreaders alike are affected by the Internet and television, the byte, the sound bite, and the accelerating pace of life, and have only a short story’s worth of time to give to literature.’ Proof is still to follow. Last year, the publication of John Updike’s Early Stories: 1953-1975 received much positive attention but few sales considering his status. Annie Proulx’s new anthology Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories 2 has not had shining reviews but surely it will sell.
82, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
Eggers’ first book, a memoir entitled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, came out four years ago and made him very famous. Since then he has enjoyed an escalating cult following. His magazine The Believer, his first novel, You Shall Know Our Velocity, and his publishing house, McSweeney’s, are all very popular. Eggers himself is well-liked, not least of all because he runs free writing labs for children in Brooklyn (Superhero Supply Co.) and San Franscico (Pirate Supply Store) offering one-on-one help with homework. So, how are we hungry? Each of the stories in this book answers this question directly. Self-conscious
desperation is the key motivation. Mostly, Eggers’ human characters are a miserable lot. They collect cacti and count their lives away. They don’t want to be like they are, but are only momentarily allowed to transcend all that which debases. The urge to find a gigantic pair of tweezers and pluck Dave Eggers from Generation X and put him somewhere more meaningful (and less anxious) overwhelms. The prognosis is better for dogs and the final story “After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned” is enjoyable: When I run I can turn like I’m magic or something. I can turn like there wasn’t even a turn. I turn and I’m going so fast it’s like I was still going straight. Through the trees like a missile, through the trees I love to run with my claws reaching and grabbing so quickly like I’m taking everything. This dog’s a Jack Kerouac but his name is Steven. One of the most topical stories in How We Are Hungry is called “When They Learned to Yelp”. It is also one of the most annoying ones. Though he never makes this explicit, Eggers is at pains to define ‘yelp’ as what happened to young Americans upon witnessing the destruction of the Twin Towers. The word ‘yelp’ appears over thirty times within three pages and Eggers gets his message across just fine. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe a yelp is what happens when you accidentally tread on your puppy’s foot. He’s hijacked the wrong word and the experiment falls as flat as his character in “Climbing to the Window, Pretending to Dance”, who attempts suicide by jumping from a two-storey building. It’s all the more annoying when Eggers’ writing falters because we have already looked through the windows of his enormous potential. In “Up The Mountain Coming Down Slowly” the writing is so good you don’t even notice it’s there. First published in McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, it’s about a woman who sets out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro for reasons that elude her. This story is as full as any novel ever could be. And the ending… it’s no wonder Eggers is winning so many awards. A trophy room is in order if he intends to keep this up. On the eve of her departure, Rita, from “Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly”, visits the hotel bar and meets a stranger: ‘They talked about capital punishment, the stenographer comparing the stonings common to some Muslim regions with America’s lethal injections and electric chairs. Somehow the conversation was cheerful and relaxed.’ And yet somehow this book is actually quite funny, a most curious mix. There’s also lot of fooling around here and that’s probably why so many people think he’s pretentious. The posturing in How We Are Hungry is irritating; it distracts from the quality of the writing and the quality of thought. I’d give it an A for achievement and a D for effort and attitude – Eggers might consider this the perfect grade. It’s unsettling that quite a few of these stories have been revised since their original publication in prestigious places like The Guardian and The New Yorker. One worries that the new ones are going to change too – so wouldn’t it be better to wait and read the final version? Old-fashioned, I would prefer Eggers’ words to stay put.
Q &A By Vikas Swarup London. Transworld Publishers 2005 ISBN: 0385608144. Distributed by Random House Australia. Paperback. $32.95. “I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show.” This is the eye-popping opening line of Vikas Swarup’s debut novel Q & A - a picaresque tale of an orphan who wins “Who
Wants to be a Billionaire?” Unable to pay out the prize money, the organisers of the show conspire to have him arrested for cheating. Our hero is Ram Mohammad Thomas – a name part Hindu, part Muslim, part Christian, designed to please everyone. Ram’s excellent adventures are presented to us in the form of a quiz show, with a chapter dedicated to each question. It’s a clever setup and the novel takes full advantage of the quiz-show phenomenon, namely that the audience desperately wants the contestant to win. Ram is as smart and brave as his tales are tall. This boy is far from lucky but lucky coincidences are everywhere in Q & A. In an extraordinary act of generosity Ram gives away a huge amount of stolen money to save a dying boy he’s never met. The father of the dying boy gives him his business card which he puts in his top pocket.
Moments later the police arrive to frisk him but he no longer has the stolen cash so he walks free. Further down the track, a question on Shakespeare pops up in the quiz and Ram doesn’t know the answer. He elects to use a ‘life boat’ but can’t think of anyone to call. While reaching into his pocket to find his lucky coin, his hand brushes against the business card. He reads it for the first time and miraculously it says, “Utpah Chatterjee, English Teacher, St John’s School, Agra” and then gives a phone number. Though the story is related entirely from Ram’s point of view, Swarup bends the rules so that the limited perspective is never isolating or dull. Though we are encouraged to doubt Ram’s honesty, this is done in a genial sort of story-telling way: there’s no edgy postmodern uncertainty here. It’s a book that began as a good idea and will probably end up a movie. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 83
Like any great ride at the fair this book succeeds in making you feel a bit sick and it would be irresponsible not to give it an MA rating. Q & A is a fictional story about fortune, both good and bad. Swarup is not remotely concerned with presenting a factual account of a street kid’s life. For example, the only time Ram complains of real hunger he reports, “even something as basic as a boiled egg, which I have never liked, makes me salivate”. I am not sure how basic a boiled egg is to a penniless orphan but to nit-pick is to miss the point. If reading is at all like traveling then Q & A is like riding fast across India on a motorcycle. The view is blurry but the journey is lots of fun. (Trivia: Turkey has just chopped another six zeros off its currency, so that country’s show, “Who Wants to Win Five Billion Turkish Lira” might finally get a catchier name.) Reviewed by MICHAEL MORRISSEY
THE TURNING By Tim Winton MacMillan Australia. ISBN: 0-330-42138-7. $46. I have a confession to make. When I gave The Turning the dreaded flick test and came across a page (say p.294) of skinny unpunctuated dialogue, I thought “not more Hemingway please”, and closed it. A review that lavished it with praise prompted me to give it a second go. I’m very glad I did. When I actually read the first story, I was instantly hooked. Here was a story whose main characters I could easily identify with – dropouts on the run, adolescent losers in quest of the big city or, as it is entitled, “Big World”. It’s a warm but
unsentimental account of friendship and doomed destiny that any man who has ever worked a dead end job and one morning got up before dawn, jumped in his rust bucket and muttered to himself, “I’m gettin’ outta here,” can identify with. Or, as Winton puts it ,”Monday morning everyone thinks we’re off to work as usual, but in ten minutes we’re out past the town limits and going like hell.” And somehow you sense hell is where they’re headed, though at that moment, the exhilaration of escape is all they know about. Accordingly, Winton’s stories have a place of honour in what Irish short story writer Frank O’Connor identified as the central literary short story tradition – people dreaming of escape but not quite achieving it. The short story becomes a kind of mournful but touching parable that shows the trapped protagonists attempting a wild tangent of hopeful escape but essentially returning to where they first started, returning to where they belong. It’s a pessimism about overly quick change in our lives that seems acceptably lifelike in a short story but perhaps unbearable in a novel. In a way, the short story has permission to be more honest about life’s bitter containments than a novel. The small town world of coastal West Australia is here fictionally embodied in a place called West Point. Gradually and subtly, it becomes clear that some of the characters’ lives have intersected. After all, West Point isn’t that big a place. Melanie, for instance, who is a central character in “Abbreviation”, is alluded to in “Damaged Goods” as “a farm girl whose ring finger ended at the first joint”. The effect of this and other such intertextualities is to create a sociological mosaic, a village-sized cosmos that is warm and compelling. As well as Frank O’Connor, Winton’s stories with their drifting losers, drunken wife beaters, abattoir workers, down at heel train catchers, rusting Kombi owners and small town trailer trash put me in mind of what Granta magazine identified twenty years ago as a then new trend in American writing – dirty realism. The principal star of that “group” was Raymond Carver, a modern master of the post-Hemingway story, complete minimalist unpunctuated dialogue, feelings of entrapment and social doom and, unintellectual characters with low social horizons. Like Hemingway, Carver’s work was spare to the point of boniness, and cool to cold in tone. Winton partakes of that heritage but has a warmer tone, a plusher vocabulary with apt colourful similes that sketch in the backdrops effectively. The easy but rich style, the expert characterisation and feeling of small town enclosure make a heady and exciting brew. As of now, Tim Winton is one of my favourite short story writers.
SHOTGUN CITY: Melbourne’s Gangland Killings By Paul Anderson Hardie Grant Egmont. ISBN: 1-74066-210-5. $19.95. What do Nikolai Radev, Jason Moran, Pasquale Barbaro, Willy Thompson, Mark Mallia, Housam Zayat, Michael Marshall, Graham Kinniburgh have in common? They were all criminals and they were all (save one who was incinerated) shot to death in 2003 during Melbourne’s ongoing gangland wars. By mid - 2004, when this book went to print, six more had been killed. This book is a grim progress report on the “Second War”. None of these gun battles nor gang warfare are anything new. The opening chapter entitled “The First War” gives an overview of the era from the late 1950s to the early 1980s when an estimated 40 individuals were taken out as a result of warring factions of the notorious Painters and Dockers Union. Veteran of the murderous streets, Billy Longley says sardonically of the Second War, “they’ve 84, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
nently figured. Plus the cult series, The Sopranos. It must be said that the bad guys have good taste in films as they do in the expensive clobber they buy with drug money. Cause and effect should not be confused. Crime movies don’t create criminals but if you are walking the street with a Colt .45 in your belt, the mode and code of your crime, not to mention sartorial style, may be film-influenced. It seems the local hoods do follow the general style of their American counterparts as regards dress, code of silence, mode of execution and nicknames - plus a liking for the more authentic crime movie. Overall, the Anderson account is a cool-toned hard-boiled history with traces of American slang - though reading too much at a sitting has a depressive effect.
PENGUIN ENCYCLOPEDIA Edited by David Crystal
got a bit of catching up to do”. Maybe so, but if the present spate continues at its current average, twenty years will see at least 62 welldressed corpses laid to rest in classy coffins. Why gangsters murder each other might not be a question that keeps a lot of honest citizens awake at night. However, there is some variation in theories of motivation. A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology and the South Australia Police Major Investigation Branch surprisingly fingered “dissolution of an intimate relationship” i.e. bumping off straying partners, as a major factor. It also noted money, drugs, silencing a witness, revenge, or profit from crime as motives. Anderson is adamant that in the case of the recent 1998 – 2004 orgy of assassination by bullet, most were drug – related hits. As a result of reading this clinical to morbid text, the following advice could be given to those contemplating a career in violent crime: ■ Don’t leave your car unattended ■ Don’t leave home without a pistol down your pants ■ When dismembering a corpse, use a meat cleaver. Chain saws get clogged with skin and blood. ■ Arrange for a minimum $100,000 donation to the police as an information incentive to help track your anticipated killers ■ Move out of the Melbourne Central Business District Area ■ Stop seeing Quentin Tarantino movies Regarding the latter, it is fascinating to read that gangsters do watch and like crime movies. Billy Longley’s favourites are Unforgiven and On the Waterfront. Other movies favoured by the older generation are Scarface and Little Caesar. In more recent times, The Godfather, Heat, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs have promi-
Penguin Books 2004. ISBN: 0-140-51543-7. $75. What can you say about an encyclopaedia that gives twelve lines to Alexander the Great and sixteen lines to the Beach Boys? Clearly, the pop present is being privileged over the classical past. However, this 1698-page tome is often factually inaccurate when dealing with the present (20th century). Under Mexican Art, David Alfaro Siqueiros has his last name omitted so he becomes David Alfaro; Booker Prize winner Keri Hulme is credited with the 1992 publication of Bait, a novel that she has yet to publish; Postmodernism only deals with architecture, ignoring the fact it is de rigeur in literature and art. Spelling mistakes include the Mexican president’s first name printed as Vincente instead of Vicente and painter Jose Clemente Orozco’s second name spelt as Clementi. The omissions are a wonder indeed. Mick Jagger is in, “Keith Richards” is out; Al Capone is in, Lucky Luciano is absent; Keri Hulme is in, Janet Frame is not; Stalingrad is in, Kursk (world’s greatest tank battle) is missing; Michael Jackson is in, Peter Jackson
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 85
is not; Everest-conqueror Edmund Hillary is necessarily in but Reinhold Messner, the world’s greatest mountaineer is not; Saddam Hussein is in and Osama bin Laden, as always, is invisible. Structuralism is in but astonishingly poststructuralism is not (though it is sneakily mentioned under Deconstruction with which it is mistakenly identified). I was surprised to find Timothy Leary, Peggy Guggenheim, Bryce Courtenay, Pierre Bourdieu (renowned anthropologist), Takla Makan desert and Google absent (though Desktop Publishing is in). Another anomaly – perhaps common in other encyclopaedias – is contradictory entries. The Aborigines entry has them arriving in Australia 60,000 years ago while the Australian history section has a figure of 40,000. (Some have advanced the figure to 100,000 BC – shouldn’t all three estimates have been discussed?) The entry on Australian literature make no mention of Judith Wright, yet she merits a separate entry under her own name. This inconsistency of analysis is possibly explicable by two different people doing the two entries. But shouldn’t there be a match up? Similarly, William Burroughs is not mentioned under Beat Generation but under his own entry is declared to be a “spokesman of the Beat movement”. Also, stingily, there is no colour in any of the maps and no portraits (though that does allow more text). Now for some appreciation. There are compendious lists of phobias, popes, highest mountains, deserts and, best of all, Crusades which includes sub-headings under Background, Leaders and Outcomes – though regretfully no Nobel Prize listings. Listings of musicians, artists and scientists are generally good. The quality of the paper and binding is excellent. Some may be wondering – in this Internet age do we still need encyclopaedias? I, for one, would not like to see them become obsolete because they present the opportunity par excellence for browsing by association and the alphabet. Also an encyclopaedia offers greater authority than the crackpot and often wildly inaccurate entries frequently found on the Internet. It cannot be repeated too often that an encyclopaedia, being a book, can never have power failure, a virus, intrusive advertisements or the irritatingly busy format deployed by many website homepages. However, the Penguin Encyclopedia needs a clean up on accuracy, improved expansion and consistency of inclusion and could do with some colour in its bland white pages. Hey, it’s still an encyclopaedia, my favourite kind of book for browsing new arcana and esoterica.
TOLKIEN’S GOWN & Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books By Rick Gekoski Constable and Robinson. ISBN: 1-74066-210-5. $29.99. In general, I have regarded book collectors and first edition freaks as fetishists who are more interested in the wrapping than the present, brassieres instead of breasts. Having enjoyed Mr Gekoski’s lucid prose and accumulation of delightful anecdotes, my previous value judgment has been white-anted somewhat. Despite his eye for the deal, the multi-talented Gekoski also has an ear for the interesting human story, hence this witty and attractively presented book (which I am hoping will one day prove a valuable first edition). The book kicks off with a chapter on the controversial Lolita, Nabokov’s sordid tale of a middle-aged lecher’s seduction of a barely pubescent girl. Shocking as this relationship might be, Nabokov’s exquisite prose turns it into a tragic love story. In his cheerfully lucid style, Gekoski relates how after he sold a first edition of Lolita for $4900, he received a letter from Graham Greene asking how much he (Greene) could get for a copy inscribed 86, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
to him by the Russian author. Apparently, this in an example of what rare book dealers call an “association copy”, one presented by the author to someone of importance. As Greene eminently qualified, Gekoski insisted on paying him $7200 (Greene wanted less!), and sold it for a profit (mysteriously, or tactfully, not revealed). When Gekoski last heard, the on sold book fetched $264,000 which left him “sick with seller’s remorse”. Since reading this revealing anecdote, I have been urging my friends at launches of my books to hurry up and become “persons of importance” so I can buy the book back off them and resell it for a whacking profit. So far, the scheme has yet to take off. And is unlikely to, for almost none of my books have that piece de la resistance, a dustwrapper, which rockets the price for any rare book into the ionosphere. If over a quarter of million dollars sounds like big money, it has been topped by Gekoski’s estimate for a first edition Lord of the Flies – $450,000. A first edition inscribed Ulysses actually sold for $460,000 – the highest price thus far. Touchingly, Gekoksi admits that Ulysses is a tough read, even though he considers it the greatest book of the twentieth century. This promisingly profitable spiral was recently put in the shade when the original manuscript of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road sold for $2,430,000 which makes me wish cryonic preservation really works and poor old Jack could return and feast off the posthumous profit. Packed with colourful stories of famous writers, this book is surely one of the more notable of the 110,000 books published in England last year, most of which, Gekoski reminds us, will soon be forgotten. I am hoping the first edition of his book will soar in value – when Gekoski soon visits the Antipodes I must ask him to inscribe it.
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 87
AT THE MOVIES
“FAMILY DOCTOR” NO CURE Taxpayer dollars are wasted on another dud Aussie flick, but “Aviator” soars and “Daggers” slices
The Illustrated Family Doctor Released: March 03, 2005 Rated: MA
T Shelly Horton
he Australian film industry continues to drown the continent in a pool of unfulfilling, poorly scripted, pointless excuses for movies. The Illustrated Family Doctor doesn’t just continue this trend, it makes The Crop look like Casablanca. Personally, I refuse to lower my standards simply on the basis of Aussie pride. This film contains nothing to be proud of. Gary Kelp (Samuel Johnson) works for a company that condenses long books into manageable digests. His father recently died and Gary is stunned to find out his mother signed dad up to be an organ donor. Then, as if to compound his unease, he is assigned to do a cut-and-paste job on The Illustrated Family Doctor – a medical guidebook filled with lurid pictures of skin diseases and tumours. As Gary’s life falls apart, these diseases seem to jump from the screen and invade his body. Now Samuel Johnson always looks like he needs a good scrub at the best of times. But add to that actual eye infections and skin rashes and I was reaching for the sick-bag. I was just hoping one of the diseases would be fatal. In the meantime, his boss (the uninspiring and disappointing Colin Friels) has troubles of his own dealing with his daughter’s abusive husband. There’s even a strange and tacked-on gangster sub-plot. It’s all a sticky mess. One of my favourite actors, Sacha Horler, has a small role as Gary’s sister, but even her talents couldn’t avert this train wreck. It is painfully obvious that this is director Kriv Stenders’ first film. His cumbersome direction drags out scenes that should have been tight. Whatever
88, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
laughter there is comes from pity rather than genuine enjoyment. How on Earth did this film get funding? Film Finance Corporation Australia should hang its head in shame. Prognosis: terminal.
House of Flying Daggers Released: February 17, 2005 Rated: MA
very scene in House of Flying Daggers is a work of art. Strongly contrasting landscapes and rich colours make the characters seem like they are living in oil paintings. Like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, this Chinese film easily crosses the East-West divide. It falls in what is known as the wuxia genre, which means the story is all about swordplay and chivalry; viewers can expect plenty of stylised martial arts fights with dramatic camera angles and mind-exploding choreography. Gravity is not a concept director Zhang Yimou chooses to accept. But it’s not all style and no substance. Set in ninthcentury China during the Tang dynasty, House of Flying Daggers is driven by a classic love triangle. The players are two Tang officers –the handsome young Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and the older Leo (Andy Lau) – who try to trick blind dancer Mei (Zhang Ziyi) into leading them to a rebel group known as the Flying Daggers. Takeshi Kaneshiro – Asia’s answer to Brad Pitt – breathes steamy sex appeal into his role. Andy Lau, who’s more your Harrison Ford type, struggles to escape Takeshi’s shadow. But it’s Zhang Ziyi who steals the show. She looks like a delicate princess, but a flick of her wrist would smash your nose into a million pieces. Imagine a fragile Winona Ryder who could kick Jennifer Garner’s butt.
It’s inspiring to see such strong lead roles for women. Female roles in Western films just can’t compare. In House of Flying Daggers the women are fierce warriors who can fight dozens of men at a time without also having to look like they could arm-wrestle Arnie. The film does have a couple of flaws. For one thing, the plot wraps up a bit too quickly in the end with its twists, revelations and double-crossings. And the sex scenes are very clumsy – obviously the lead characters are fighters, not lovers. House of Flying Daggers’ Chinese title is Shi Main Mai Fu, which literally translated means “Ambushed From Ten Directions”. I prefer this title because it better captures the eye-popping special effects and head-spinning action that had me rushing out of the cinema to practice my karate chops on my younger brother.
The Aviator Released: February 10, 2005 Rated: MA
he Aviator has already garnered more stars than the American flag and I just gave it five more. This Martin Scorcese – directed film is a masterpiece. Viewers are swept along by the excesses of Howard Hughes’ life and wrapped up in the glamour of a seductive, groundbreaking era. Hughes lived an amazing life, and the world is a better place for hitching a ride in his slipstream. The Aviator uses a great story to showcase Hollywood’s finest actors of the moment. Now I don’t know anyone over twelve years old who
actually likes Leonardo DiCaprio, but credit where credit is due: he’s captivating in this film. He doesn’t look like Howard Hughes, yet he has captured the essence of his drive, ambition and cuckoo-crazy episodes – to say nothing of the billionaire’s need for perfection, big-picture brain and desire for busty women. DiCaprio shows how a man could burst under all that pressure and wind up naked and locked in a room surrounded by bottles of his own urine. And as always it’s all about Cate Blanchett. She of the impossible cheekbones personifies Katharine Hepburn and everything we loved about her. Blanchett nails her mannerisms, voice and headstrong behaviour. But it’s not a crass mimicry – it’s an homage. I look forward to the day a movie is made about Cate Blanchett to see who will be brave enough to portray one of Australia’s finest actors. Kate Beckinsale stacked on ten kilos to play Ava Gardner, and the curves suit her well – as does the sassy and strong role. Alec Baldwin is at his charming and suave best as Hughes’ arch-rival, Juan Trippe. John C. Reilly is downtrodden as always as Hughes’ accountant. Alan Alda should be given more roles as he is horribly accurate as a corrupt senator. The only two who don’t shine are Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow and Jude Law as Errol Flynn. But director Martin Scorsese had the sense to keep those parts brief. The special effects are astounding (one particular plane crash is so graphic I shielded my eyes from flying debris), the energetic music had me bopping in my seat and the cinematography is rich and luscious.The world needs more eccentric geniuses like Howard Hughes and Martin Scorsese. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 89
BAD SEEDS, GOOD TUNES Also: Seven CDs of suave swing, and what happens when career changes go bad
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus”, Anti
ith his deep, portentous voice and grave manner, Nick Cave demands to be taken seriously. His literate lyrics often rely on biblical and mythological allusions: even the titles of the two-disc set Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus could use footnotes. But Cave’ s pretensions are a large part of his appeal, and after 20 years with his ever-evolving band, the Bad Seeds, he still pulls off audacious rhymes like “Orpheus”/ “orifice” without sounding ridiculous. The mainly acoustic, piano-driven Lyre is the more accessible album. The rolling ballad Breathless is the most beautiful song in Cave’s vast catalog, and Babe, You Turn Me On isn’t far behind. The more visceral “Abattoir raises a holy clatter of apocalyptic noise in songs such as There She Goes, My Beautiful World, an invocation to the Muses to cure writer’s block that links St. John of the Cross to Johnny Thunders and features a gospel choir. Based on the inspired songs in these albums, the Muses must have listened. Review by Steve Klinge
Robert Downey Jr. “The Futurist”, Sony Classical 1
obert Downey Jr. found fame as a talented yet troubled actor. He’ll need to leave it at that with this partly laudable, partly laughable transition into music. The downtrodden, introspective vibe of The Futurist – one mid-tempo piano-driven ballad after another – is tiresome, despite the earnestness of the whole affair. To his credit, singer-song-
90, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
writer-pianist Downey (who sang on Ally McBeal as well as in his Oscar-nominated turn in Chaplin) brings a solid sense of melody to his own compositions, smartly enhanced by subtle flourishes of jazz and folk. But his voice is hardly endearing, even on his understated rendition of Chaplin’s “Smile”. And he’s painfully off the mark on a cringe-worthy version of Yes’ “Your Move” that even Jon Anderson’s backing vocals can’t save. There’s raw talent here, but Downey had best stick with his day job. Review by Nicole Pensiero
Art Farmer/Benny Golson “The Complete Argo/Mercury Art Farmer/ Benny Golson Jazztet Sessions”, Mosaic
he jazztet created in 1959 by the trumpeter Art Farmer and saxophonist/composer Benny Golson more than merits this seven-CD extravaganza from Mosaic Records. The two created a group with a suave sound that showcased great melodies from a swinging core. Farmer, who died in 1999 and helped popularize the flugelhorn in jazz, was among the most sensitive of brass players, while Golson, a heavyweight reed man, remains one of jazz’s top composers. Included here is his classic tribute to trumpeter Clifford Brown, I Remember Clifford, which encapsulates the greatness of the partnership: Farmer’s trumpet finding poignant nuances in Golson’s elegiac composition. The jazztet, which ran through 1962, was a great vehicle for Golson’s tunes, which range from Killer Joe, with its spoken and theatrical introduction, to the goose-stepping Blues March, and from the earthy Blues After Dark to the noir ballad Park Avenue Petite. Review by Karl Stark
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 91
THE SPORTING LIFE
A FAIR GO Whether in the backyard or the big leagues, sometimes, winning is everything
W Jake Ryan
hen you were a kid playing backyard in cricket by both peers and opponents for the way he cricket, how many times did you nick plays the game. On a number of occasions he has one through to automatic wicky and not walked when not needed. He has even brought Sri walk? Sure, your brothers and your old man tore up Lankan batsmen Aravinda Da Silva back to the midthe pitch giving each other high fives, but you stood dle after he took a catch when he was unsure if he had your ground: “Off the pad, it hit a patch of crab taken it on the half volley or not. grass, that’s what made it deviate,” you probably But just because he plays the game in that fashion claimed. “I didn’t hit it, I’m not walking.” does not mean that he has the right to impose his They’d swear, call you a cheat, and deliver bouncers views on sportsmanship on others, as he did in the for the next half hour. But you stayed in, made a Brisbane test against New Zealand last November. backyard fifty, and raised your bat in triumph. Then Sure, we all grew up hearing, “it’s not whether you your brother would take a swing at you, and everyone win or lose, it’s how you play the game”. But things would roll around on the ground punching on en- change when you’re a professional athlete. You get couraged by dad – at least until mum ran out to break paid huge money; your every move is under a microit up. She’d clip you both over scope. In Craig McMillan’s the ear, take the bat and ball, instant, his team was and send you to your Gilchrist’s reply was short going down the gurgler in rooms. You feel bad, but you the second innings, and he and smug, and McMillan did hated getting done, especially was under an enormous well not to throw one by your little brother – and amount of pressure, batting pride stands in the way of not just for his country but like he was back playing sportsmanship. Obviously for his test career as well. Yes, backyard cricket Adam Gilchrist has had that he got some bat on it, but done to him a lot, or his the umpire had doubt, and backyard cricket games were very boring. Whereas I McMillan stood his ground and didn’t walk. think Craig McMillan’s backyard cricket days were a lot What would you do? Walk and get a pat on the like mine. back, or remember the pressure you were under, the Now don’t get me wrong. I love Adam Gilchrist. media beating you up, the sponsors and selectors bayHe is the world’s best glovesman, just captained Aus- ing for your blood, your family at home knowing you tralia to its first test series win in India in thirty years in were batting for their survival. He stood his ground. the absence of Ricky Ponting, and when he retires will And you know what? I would have stood my ground end up being known as one of the greatest keeper too – just like virtually every other athlete who has batsmen the game has produced. I grew up wicket ever taken his sport seriously. keeping and idolized the West Australian as he took McMillan did the right thing for him and his team. over from fellow Queenslander Ian Healy. He has He even confronted Gilchrist after the game, telling saved Australia on many occasions, and been a great Gilchrist just because he was a walker doesn’t mean ambassador for the game of cricket and this great he can be judge and jury over everyone else. Gilchrist’s land of ours.More than anything else, Gilchrist is a reply was short and smug, and McMillan did well not consummate professional, and respected universally to throw one like he was back playing backyard cricket.
92, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
One of the worst scenes in sports history played out around the same time as the Brisbane test, when Ron Artest and his Indiana Pacers teammates cut there way through the crowd after having drinks thrown on them by a hostile Detroit crowd. Now here have been many instances of sports stars getting involved with the crowd. Eric Cantana’s kung fu kick to a Crystal Palace supporter comes to mind, as do countless incidents involving tennis and golf stars mouthing off to the crowd. But nothing compares to the Pacers brawl. The fans gave as good as they got as the pandemonium spilt onto the court. The game was abandoned and it was a free-for-all as the Pacers boxed there way back to the change rooms. This disgusting display led to the biggest suspensions apart from drug sentences handed out by NBA commissioner David Stern. Ron Artest was the worst-hit, and will miss the rest of the season after inciting the terrible display. But all this raises the question of how crowds and spectators should behave, and how much they should be allowed to get away with. Like many sportsmen, I have been subjected to my share of verbal insults, from the insulting and derogatory to the just plain sick. (I can’t even count the number of times my mum and dad have come to blows with some punter over something he shouted from the stands). But like most other athletes, I’ve learned to block
it out and be professional. After all, that’s what I’m paid to do.There is a line that is crossed when spectators try to physically insert themselves into the game. I remember playing in a game for Sandringham against Frankston in 2001. It was my nineteenth birthday, a TV game, and there was less than a goal in it all day. I was tagging their best player and hadn’t allowed him any room. In the second quarter I was split open in a little brawl and had to leave the ground because of the blood rule. As I was walking off the ground I was smacked in the head by a half-full VB can thrown by one of there supporters. I was furious and wanted revenge but didn’t like my chances against a few hundred, so I copped it on the chin and got on with the game. The supporter who threw it should have been evicted, banned, and handed over to the police, just like every other mug who gets involved with players as they play the game. If they want to be so involved in the game, they should get off the turps, go and work hard and train, and earn the right to be out there competing. Fans, whether at an AFL ground in Australia or courtside at an NBA game in America, may not like someone, or respect him or her, but must respect the right of players to ply their trade without worrying about some peanut in the bleachers. March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 93
94, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005
March 2005, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM 95
DIARY OF A CABBY
COCAINE BLUES The truth may set you free, but when your passengers are on drugs, sob stories get the fare paid
I Adrian Neylan
was working a big hotel in the Eastern Suburbs a My passengers were chastened for all of five secfew Saturdays ago when three young men and a onds, concluding that if not for the camera, I’d be girl, all skippies in their twenties, approached interested. ‘No worries mate’, they assured me, ‘we’ll the cab and asked if I wanted to go up to the North- talk about it later’. My move had backfired – if I didn’t ern Beaches. quickly recover the initiative, I’d lose. Although the fellas were firing on all cylinders, I ‘Listen’, I told them, killing the music, ‘I’ve been quickly noted the absence of alcohol odor. That meant there and done all that. I was once like you guys, only one thing: drugs. I wondered if they had enough partying every weekend. Until my girlfriend got cancer for the $70 fare, or if they would run. With half the and died. That’s when I said enough...’ It was a total night’s earnings at stake, one can’t be careless, and I line, but they fell for it. braced myself for the psychological warfare to come. ‘Mate, that’s terrible. We’re sorry for pushing you...’. It began quickly when I noticed the lead male mutterHaving gained the advantage I moved to consoliing something to the girl in the back before calling date: ‘Nah, that’s okay. But let me tell you, cocaine is out, ‘Hey cabbie! Do you ever get women offering just as addictive as heroin. Except you don’t know it you favors for the fare?’ In other words, they were until you’re using it everyday...’. debating whether or not ‘Yeah, that’s just like to pay. Snowy..’, said one of the ‘Nah, never’, I lied, boys, quietly. Having gained the advanthinking he must be I continued, seeing I’d hit a tage I moved to consolidate: pretty gone. nerve: ‘...Next thing you ‘Nah, that’s okay – you’re just know, you’re 40 years old, Then the alpha male got on the phone, ‘Steve-o! looking like 50, with no having a good time Whaddya doin’? I’ve got a money and driving cabs...if gram for ya! Meet us in half you’re lucky!’. an hour’. Then he turned his attention my way: ‘Hey We pulled up outside a house in Dee Why with the cabbie’, he called. ‘Feel like joining us for a few lines?’ meter showing $62. From the subdued mood in the ‘Nah, not for me thanks mate,’ I laughed, waving cab, I was confident my tale had worked. ‘Anyway, away the offer as we whizzed across the Harbour you guys are still young, but don’t waste it. That’ll be Bridge, but he wasn’t convinced. $62 plus seven more for the tolls’. They all chipped in ‘Ah, he says “no” but you can see he’s itching for a and handed me $70 – the full fare, plus a dollar tip. line. Come on mate, spark up!’ They made one last attempt to entice me: ‘You sure ‘Mate’, I called over the thumping music, ‘I’m you won’t come in?’ already sparking on caffeine and nicotine!’ ‘No thanks mate’, I answered, ‘you guys party on, ‘Yeah’, he shot back, ‘but wait ‘til ya see this - it’s the but do it safely, OK?’ best coke in Sydney! Put a real edge on your night’. I ‘Yeah, it’s under control mate, it’s all good. Nice just laughed and watched my speed as we shot past a meeting you’. Breathing a sigh of relief I drove away tunnel camera. wondering if they’d intended to run. One can never ‘Even if I wanted to,’ I said, pointing at the discreet be certain in this game. interior camera, no bigger than a cigarette pack. Read more of Adrian the Cabby at www.cablog.com.au.
96, INVESTIGATEMAGAZINE.COM, March 2005