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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Miss England is too fat?

I just cannot believe these idiots who run the modelling and fashion world. Despite the likes of supermodel, Tyra Banks, continuing to push for a role for 'plus-size' models and models who actually have curves, and the divine Ms Banks had and continues to have one heck of a set of curves, check out this lunacy.

Miss England 2008, Laura Coleman, has been told that she is too fat to be on the catwalk. Oh give me a bloody break. In this image from her wikipedia page, Ms Coleman is a size 8. The naughty girl let herself become a disgustingly obese size 10! Oh the shame of it all.

Coleman has done a healthy thing but the lunatics who run the modelling/fashion world have effectively condemned her for it. What happened to this idea that the fashion industry was supposed to be pushing for more realistic, healthy role models? Do we really have to have more aspiring models literally starve themselves to death before these idiots wake up to themselves?

I say 'good on ya' Laura. Not that I generally give a damn about the Miss World pageant (except of course when Jennifer Hawkins won, but as an Aussie I'm just slightly biased there), but I'll be quietly cheering you on in South Africa at the Miss World finals.
Publish Post

Friday, November 28, 2008

Are Australia Post conducting a scam?

The dramas over the Australia Post company, First Direct Solutions, continues.

I received the documentation in the post that required I furnish particular identification details before revealing who they have sold my details to. Stay tuned for details once I have a response to that.

I am still receiving letters from various bodies as personally addressed mail, begging for money. I have begun contacting them to get myself removed from their various databases. The Fred Hollows Foundation was one of them. I asked if they obtained my details from the Australia Post company, First Direct Solutions. No, they assured me, they had no dealings with that company, giving me the name and contact number for the company that they had purchased a mailing list from. Guess who it turned out to be. That's right, it was First Direct Solutions. I contacted the Hollows Foundation again and let them know. The operative I spoke to expressed considerable surprise that they had been dealing with FDS. Apparently there had been a name change in the past, but that apparently occurred before I had completed the Australia Post Lifestyles Survey.

Another charity referred me to yet another mail list distributor who they claim that they purchased their list from. I have telephoned that company several times but only get an answering machine. I have requested removal from their database and requested advice on where they obtained my details from. I am yet to receive any confirmation that they have removed my name from their database and no response to my request for information. I shall give them benefit of the doubt for another few days. Maybe they're just slack in that office.

So what actually happened? I received an email that encouraged me to take part in Australia Post's Australian Lifestyles Survey, offering the potential for large cash prizes as an incentive. Was I stupid enough to participate? Yes. Caveat emptor! But having reviewed the survey form yet again, it does not state that Australia Post are using it to create a database that they are then selling on to who knows who, only a bland statement that survey participants 'may' be contacted by other businesses. Australia Post is getting two bites at the cherry here. They sell the database and then charge the purchaser postage for all the letters sent out to the persons they select from the database. It is only when you start digging that you really find out what is going on.

I telephoned First Direct Solutions again, asking them how I went about purchasing a copy of the database and what restrictions there are on how I may use the database. I was referred to their website. I checked and am unable to find any such information other than an automated contact point. So I am no wiser as yet.

At the end of the day, I did let myself become blinded by the prospect of scoring some bucks for nothing. How stupid was that! However I wonder just how many other respondents to that survey (FDS claim to have over 400,000 entries in their database) are aware of just what they have actually done? Admittedly FDS did remove my name from the database, but as previously detailed, I had to raise hell on the telephone before they did.

I fail to see how Australia Post can justify acting in this manner. Apart from anything else, how many natural resources are wasted in the junk mail being generated from access to their database?

His Dishonour, Marcus Einfeld

Some months ago, I wrote about the lunacy surrounding former Australian federal judge, Marcus Einfeld, lying through his teeth merely in order to try and avoid a $77 speeding fine. The story reached a degree of conclusion on October 31st.

First, a recap.

On January 8, 2006, Einfield's car was clocked by a speed camera doing 60 km/h in a 50 km/h zone in the Sydney suburb of Mosman. Einfeld contested the fine, claiming that the vehicle was in the charge of his friend, Professor Theresa Brennan. However it later emerged that Brennan had in fact died in February 2003, almost three years earlier!

Einfeld continued to contest the case. His friend, Vivian Schenker, then entered the frame, giving a statement that she and Einfeld were not even in Sydney at the time, having driven to another town in his mother's car. However security footage later revealed that his mother's vehicle had not left her home on the day in question. Schenker was given immunity for her evidence. She recanted her story.

How on earth did Einfeld think he was going to get away with this insanity?

On October 14th, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal quashed five charges of perverting the course of justice against Einfeld. I fail to see how that was justified. Nonetheless, three charges of making false statements on oath and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice were upheld and to go to trial on November 3rd. However on October 31st, Einfeld finally rolled over, pleading guilty. As he should have as he lied. Deliberately. Repeatedly.

There was more and more lunacy to his increasingly ludicrous defence, all of which kept falling down as fast as he made it.

What makes this episode even more ridiculous is that when still sitting on the bench of the Supreme Court in 2000, Einfeld imprisoned a man for lying to the court.

"Lying on oath and importuning witnesses to give false evidence are not matters which can be regarded lightly or as credible," his dishonour stated. He referred to the offences as being of 'the most serious kind' and deserving 'significant punishment'. Einfeld went further, describing the actions as 'at best arrogant and at worst a complete rejection of law and order'. But apparently it is quite OK for a judge to do so in his opinion.

There is no possibility of Einfeld not being aware of the gravity of what he did. Yet he did it. And continued lying, even apparently conspiring with others to support his actions.

Einfeld's sentencing has been held over until February 2009. The charges carry maximum penalties of 10-14 years. Yet despite having pleaded guilty to such serious charges, Einfeld is allowed to retain his judge's pension, currently set at $184,200 pa, guaranteed for life. And why? Because when the legislation covering such pensions was enacted, it seemed inconceivable that a federal judge could ever be found guilty of crimes such as these.

I cannot help but wonder how just how high the price to the taxpayer this episode has been, given that Einfeld was so clearly guilty but kept dragging it on, getting deeper and deeper into the mire. Where's the real justice in this?

I will be looking forward with considerable interest to Einfeld's sentencing hearing.

What a lying piece of dirt. And all for the sake of a $77 speeding ticket!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Australia Post selling personal information - Day 2

Continuing the First Direct Solutions saga...

Noting that their website does not appear to have either postal or physical addresses, I had lodged an online complaint using their automated system but did not receive the usual automated acknowledgement of receipt.

I telephoned the company direct earlier today. They acknowledged that they had received my response and were investigating. However no information at all would be released until such time as they had posted me a form that I had to return by post. For crying out loud, this is the Internet age. My email address was one of the things that they were selling! I could not even get a straight answer about whether or not my details had been removed from their database.

After raising hell on the telephone, shortly afterwards the following landed in my email:
Dear Mr Hamilton

Thank you for your recent email in regards to your participation in the
Australian Lifestyle Survey.

As per your request we have deleted your details from our database.

We have also organised for confirmation of this to be sent to you via post
as well as including the documentation required for you to send back if you
require copies of your survey responses and a list of any companies supplied
with your details.

Should you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Emma Porter

First Direct Solutions (A division of Australia Post)

So there we have it. Australia Post have been using their Lifestyles survey to populate this database that is being sold on to apparently whoever wants it. And my details have allegedly been deleted from their database. But the timing of this makes me highly suspicious that I would not have received anything yet if I had not raised hell on the telephone.

The important thing to note is that so far they have refused to provide me with any details of their documentation that accompanies the survey in question, yet it is presumably within that material that the hapless survey respondent is signing away these rights to their privacy.

I have spoken to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. Two main things have resulted from that:
1. confirmation they cannot do anything for 30 days after you have first lodged a complaint with the offending company
2. reluctant confirmation that there is apparently nothing stopping the offending company from continuing with its behaviour for that 30 days.

What next? Well I have to wait for this document to arrive in the post. Then it is a pretty safe bet that I am the one who has to wear the costs of getting my name removed from the databases of every other company that First Direct Solutions has sold it to.

But what of the university Associate Professor who started this ball rolling? She has now apologised via email and advises that she was assured that every person on that list she purchased, had agreed to that material being provided.

While typing this entry, another email arrived from First Direct Solutions. This email directed me to, insisting that "you will clearly see in the text on the page (not hidden in any fine print) that the purpose of the survey is for you to voluntarily give your information in order for companies to contact you. This would have been the case when you filled in the survey."

Well, let's have a closer look. Here's the text from the page in question:

G’Day! Welcome to the website of We will bring you the latest information on what makes this country a unique and fascinating place to live and makes Australians some of the friendliest people in the world. Australia is renowned around the world for its relaxed lifestyle and tolerant outlook to life. Our attitudes to life and our fashion, food, sports, music, entertainment and work, are what makes Australia a special place. You’d love it here, we do.

The world has an image of Australia as a land of wide open spaces and wonderful animals. A rural landscape inhabited by people such as Paul Hogan’s "Crocodile Dundee” of the “put another shrimp on the barby” commercials and the late Steve Irwin’s “Crikey”. In fact we are a highly urbanized country that produces Noble Prize winning scientists, world-class sportsmen and entertainers, writers, and businesspeople. Our ready acceptance of immigrants from all parts of the world has produced a vivacious cosmopolitan culture. This culture manifests itself into the food we eat, the music we listen to, the films we watch, and the sports we play; such as Australian rules, cricket, rugby, basketball, tennis, and golf., will seek to present to you the latest information and insights about what makes Australian culture unique as well as provide a forum to discuss the latest events and developments.

Australian Rules football, Cricket, Rugby, Basketball, Tennis, Golf, Swimming, Grand Prix , Horse Racing.
Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, German, Indian, Korean, Colombian, Mexican, English, Vietnamese, Thai, Greek.
Pop, Classical music, Rock 'n Roll, Jazz, Hip-hop, Country, Contemporary, Swing, Latin,
Quintessential Australian films such as Crocodile Dundee, The Castle, Muriel's Wedding, Gallipoli, Picnic at Hanging Rock as well as more current and edgier films such as Saw, and comedy with bite such as the film Kenny.
Designers, Alex Perry , Alice Mcall , Anna & Boy, Bowie Wong , Camilla , Lisa Ho, Peter Alexander.
Art and Literature
Artists, Paintings - Sculpture - Drawings - Photography – Authors , Poetry
Tourist destinations, historical sites

Upcoming Events

« October 2008 »


We would value your contribution to this website and if there is anything you would like us to expand upon, please contact us at

If you believe that you have relevant and interesting information or content on the above themes or if you would like to advertise on this website, please contact us on

Now I am admittedly a short-sighted so-and-so, but I am blowed if I can see anything here that states "...the purpose of the survey is for you to voluntarily give your information in order for companies to contact you." In fact I can't see anything remotely like it before. What's more, I have no recollection of ever even seeing this page before. Let me be more explicit - if anyone can see where this data does make any such statement, then I'll bare my bum in Myer's front window (or Grace Brothers). Now this information may be buried elsewhere in the website, but it sure as shit ain't presented as of First Direct Solutions has claimed it is.

Oh - and the latest response still insists that they have to mail documents to me. But they have sweetened the deal by offering a reply paid envelope to return this material that they assure me I should have in five days. Five days! An email would have a copy of the document in my in-box in nanoseconds!

Stay tuned as I have a sneaking suspicion that this saga is going to get sillier.
I previously stated that the ACT election was a two-horse race and that the ACT Greens were less than impressive.

At first glance, it would appear that I was wrong. Labour and Liberal won an equal number of seats, with a 7% swing against Labour and almost 4% swing against the Liberals. The Greens have gone from one seat to three. But...

As a political commentator has commented elsewhere (I'm sorry but I forget who and have to admit that I mislaid the publication his column appeared in), when compared to the ACT results for the last election for the Federal Senate, the actual proportion of the vote won by the Greens has also decreased. The vote all over the place was frankly wasted on independents who didn't win seats. So it wasn't only the majors who lost ground with the electorate.

The Greens did briefly try to pretend that they were not decided who they would support to form government. Give me a break - since when did they support the Liberals on anything? There was never any doubt that Labour would lead a minority government with the Greens.

In reality, this is no different to the years of the Liberal-National Coalition leading the country, when neither won more seats the the Labour Party. But would they dare to admit that they were also a minority government? Not bloody likely.

Can Australia Post sell your personal information?

Yesterday I found an email in my in-box, requesting my participation in an online survey. Not entirely unusual and I was about to delete it as spam, when I realised that while the sending email address was one person, the actual person signing the body of the email was an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Queensland. Intrigued, I replied and asked where they obtained my details.

I found a response to my question in my in-box this afternoon. The Assistant Professor, not the person whose email I had written to, advised that she had purchased a list containing my details from a particular marketing mob, assuring me that they would not be using these details for anything other than this online research.

Hold on - a senior academic is resorting to purchasing an email list from a direct marketing firm? This is their idea of a rigorous survey medium? But it gets better - the Associate Professor claims to be from the Marketing Discipline at the university.

In an age when spammers are being prosecuted (at long last) and the National Privacy Principles apply to both private and public sectors, senior university academics in the marketing discipline are resorting to this long discredited practice of purchasing email lists in order to conduct research?

I then looked into the company which had provided the email list: First Direct Solutions. Guess who they are a division of - Australia Post! I have NEVER knowingly given Australia Post or First Direct Solutions any permission to disseminate my details in that way, let alone sell the damned things! I looked a little closer. The only time that I have ever had any email communication with Australia Post that I can think of, is when I agreed to take part in a Lifestyles Survey. I always look at the small print on those things. I have no recollection of ever seeing anything to suggest that they would use my information for their own money-making schemes. They have a lot of fast explaining to do if they want to avoid a complaint to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The immediate moral of the story appears to be: NEVER have any online communication or contact with either Australia Post or its marketing division, First Direct Solutions.

I have lodged an online complaint with Australia Post. I have also complained to the Chancellor of the University of Southern Queensland.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

no more cricket posts?

Not here in the Rant at any rate - that's because I now have a cricket blog:

How to try and buy an election

It is election time this weekend in the Australian Capital Territory. Despite numerous persons standing in seats all around the place, it is less than a two-horse race.

The ACT Branch of the Greens is frankly less than impressive. Independents have a history of holding the balance of power in the ACT Assembly, but some of these have in the past at least, ended up as quasi party members. Take for example so-called independent Michael Moore who leapt at the chance to actually be in government, accepting a sweetheart deal with a former Liberal government, becoming their Health Minister. Yeah - real independent. This time we have people like the former star recruit of the Libs who left the party or was expelled, depending on who you listen to, set up a pretend party trying to get even with his former colleagues. There is little that I have seen among the other independents to do much to excite me.

The only real options are, as usual, the Labour Party and the Liberal Party. The current Labour government under leader John Stanhope, has a far from spotless record. Even Stanhope has admitted that they 'got it wrong' at times. But what is the alternative? A branch of the Liberal party that spends more time infighting and throwing leaders out than much else. Under current young hopeful, Ned Zilich, in desperation the Libs have chosen to go down the route of blatant attempted vote buying. Despite payment of age pensions being a Federal matter and not one for States and Territories, Zilich gleefully recently announced that all age pensioners under his government would receive a one-off payment of $500. Not invalid pensioners, not unemployed, nor any other member of the disadvantaged, just the aged. And why the aged? Because of recent very public admissions of just how poor the age pension actually is.

Take it from me, no welfare in Australia is that great, albeit better than much of the world. But let's be really honest, just how much long-time good is a once-off payment of $5oo going to be? Not that much. It was nothing more than an attempt to buy votes of the elderly. A pathetic attempt to buy an election.

Judging by the odds being offered bookmakers who have a pretty good record in predicting these results, while there will be a contest, it is hard to see Labour losing.

I wonder how many votes this transparent attempt to buy the result will have cost Zilich and his mob?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Johnson putting Australia in control? Maybe

Australian fast bowler Mitch Johnson has possibly started to push the First Test in Australia's direction, having taken 4 wickets with the last session on the third day coming to a close. As I type, India is seven wickets down and still some 130 runs short of the Australian first innings. The man that some of us love to hate, Harbajan Singh, is doing a fine job of resistance. As I type, he is on 52 not out, the top score of the Indian innings. One thing that we can never be left in doubt of is Singh's stubbornness, unwilling to ever lay down before an opponent.

This pitch has apparently been somewhat up and down but from the commentary, it appears more down than up. On such a pitch, a bowler like Johnson is going to be more than a handful. He has a short approach and neat, compact delivery, hitting the deck hard at considerable pace. With variable bounce and the rapidity, for a quick that it it, he gets through his overs, he is back at the batter again and again, with little letup or much of a chance to recover between deliveries. Coupled with an uneven bounce, the batters get little chance of reprieve against a bowler like Johnson.

With two days to go, I suspect that spin is about to start making its presence felt after the quicker bowlers have dominated the bowling action things over the preceding three days. With all due respect to the Australian players, India currently has Australia hopelessly outgunned in that department. In that event, the Aussies will need every run lead that they can and hope like heck that they can nullify the turn Singh and co will no doubt be extracting from here on in.

And here's hoping that 451press give me my cricket blogging gig. :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

why all the cricketing posts?

I'm trying to score a gig writing a cricketing blog with a blogging network. :-)

Geoff Lawson in trouble in Pakistan

The Pakistan Cricket Board is reportedly very unhappy with the performance of its current coach, Australian Geoff Lawson.

There are a couple of points worth considering from this story.

1. Given Pakistan's long history of direct political involvement with things like team selection, who in their right mind would willingly walk into that scenario?

2. Just exactly what were Lawson's coaching credentials to begin with? Nothing so significant in my opinion to warrant him being given a national coaching role. Being a good or even great former player doesn't automatically equate to being a good coach. Sport is littered with many stories of past elite players not doing terribly well in this role, while the real stars have been those who were very much lesser lights in their playing career. Two classic examples come from my beloved Australian Rules Football. Tommy Hafey was a battler as a player with only some 99 senior appearances, yet he went on to have one of the greatest coaching records ever. In contrast, Barry Cable was one of the most exciting and gifted players I have ever seen on the ground yet his coaching record with North Melbourne after his retirement was nothing short of abysmal. Playing and coaching are very different things. There are naturally exceptions to everything. India for example has done pretty well under former Australian great, Greg Chappell. Of course it could equally be argued that Chappelli had a lot more to work with than Lawson did.

3. Why is that Pakistan can so consistently have such players of immense potential and yet perform so consistently badly? The last time Pakistan toured Australia, I was looking forward to a great series but instead, they were little more than pathetic. This is not a new development. Perhaps the problem isn't the coaching.

congratulations to Bangladesh

Big congratulations to the tadpoles of the cricketing world, Bangladesh, for their first ever victory over New Zealand in a one-day match.

The hero of the game was clearly Bangladesh's quick bowler, Mortaza, who took 4-44 to really put the visitors off their game.

So what some may? It was only New Zealand. But I assure you - nobody takes our Kiwi friends lightly on the one-day field. Skipper Daniel Vittori is a handful with his left-arm spin in any form of the game. Allrounder, Jacob Oram, can turn a game around in minutes with the bat.

Now the members of the Australian team who were infamously beaten by Bangladesh in a game some years back, can feel a little less ashamed of themselves.

more controversy and a surprising revelation

I missed the dismissal of Ricky Ponting last night in the First Test, however it sounds like yet another controversy. The bowler appealed for a return catch which South African umpire, Rudi Kertzen, ruled not out.

The radio commentary at this point admitted that they had no television coverage in the commentary box and had to rely on what was shown on the electronic scoreboard. Apparently showing this to the crowd was very quickly curtailed, suggesting that it was indeed controversial.
I think this is a very sad state of affairs when the ground staff have to cut short a replay because of the volatility of a crowd. Now before people start screaming at me, I am not suggesting that Indian supporters are alone in potentially poor behaviour. I well remember listening to descriptions on the radio of Australia players hiding in a dressing room back in about 1979 when a West Indian crowd were rioting. What about the Australian crowd throwing beer bottles at English fast bowler John Snow after he felled Australian tailender Terry Jenner with a bouncer back in 1970-71 with English captain Ray Illingworth leading his team off the ground? Shouting abuse at the opposition is part of the fun of being in the crowd. There always seem to be one or two players that you just love to hate. But acting violently is a pretty different and unacceptable kettle of fish.

Then the real surprise from the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio commentators over there in India - they had to rely on a telephone call from back in Australia to tell them exactly what that televised replay (available on a feed back here in Oz) was showing! Huh?

In the not-so-long-ago bad old days, television broadcasters had to take their own equipment to the sub-continent to broadcast cricket back to Australia or wherever. However the incredibly exciting and successful 20-20 cricket series in India earlier this year was broadcast all around the world. Surely the technology is in place there now to at least get a feed into the commentary boxes?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

And it starts...again

As I type, the First Test between India and Australia is little more than a session old. And the stage is set for more nonsense.

Things really got going before a ball had been bowled. Indian opening bat, Virender Sehwag, started jumping up and down claiming that the Australian team had cheated in the Second Test in Sydney during the last Australian summer. Sehwag is adamant that the Australians all ran around claiming non-existent catches. Australian captain, Ricking Ponting, is quite rightly insulted by these claims.

That Test match shall live on in infamy as one in which the game's authorities simply rolled over and gave in to the demands of the Indian team and its management. Umpire Steve Bucknor was stood down. The veteran umpire, who is respected around the world, did not have a good game in Sydney. Under the microscope he did make some poor decisions. But how is that the result of the Australian team? Apart from anything else, Bucknor is West Indian. The umpires are all independents and have been for years. But with India now being the financial powerhouse of the cricketing world, officialdom just rolled over. Just as it has repeatedly rolled over, doing nothing about the continuing appalling behaviour by Indian player Harbajan Singh. When Singh was reported for racial slurs (yet again), the judiciary hearing the case was not given any details of Singh's five prior trips to the judiciary for consideration during deliberations after a guilty verdict had been handed down. Officialdom claims it was merely an oversight that this was not provided.
Excuse me a moment....sorry but I had to duck for cover - the wretched flying pigs have invaded my place again.

Nobody can claim that Australian teams have been guilty in the past of pretty damned aggressive behaviour. The tag of 'ugly Australians' was not just targetting the large growths of facial hair sported in the 1970s. But that is still a far cry from cheating. Let us compare once more to Mr Singh. It is illegal under cricket's laws for a bowler to have so much as an unbuttoned shirt cuff flapping loose as it may prove an unfair distraction. Yet Singh is simply infamous for his stunts of yelling abuse at the batter while he runs in to bowl! Just who exactly was trying to take unfair advantage of whom?

So now we come to the start of the Australian innings in this first Test match. The wonderboy of the Australian team on Indian soil is Matthew Hayden. He was very quickly dismissed, caught behind. A replay shows that he was not actually out. According the current Indian management's modus operandi, not to mention the likes of Sehwag, it is time to start screaming 'cheat cheat' and demands that the umpire be changed for incompetence.

The really sad part of it all is that we have some of the greatest players of the game on the field - and I am including Indian players in that description - but one can be pretty much assured that it is all going to swamped by more ridiculous allegations.

I have previously insisted in this blog that officialdom needs to act. Stamp on the troublemakers of all cricketing nations. They can start by jumping on Sehwag. If the idiot made such wild accusations at the club level where most of us play, he'd probably get a punch in the mouth for his trouble. Instead, he has the media do his shouting for him. Once upon a time players used to be jumped on from a great height for such stunts. Time to resume shutting them down.

Cricket is about the game. It is about the 22 players taking their turns out in the middle. What happens on the ground used to stay on the ground.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Oh the arrogance!

The Federal opposition in the Australian parliament, reached a new height of preposterous arrogance today. When I heard the latest outpourings from Leader of the Liberals, Malcolm Turnball and his buddy, Joe Hockey, reported on the radio late afternoon as I was driving home from my part-time job, I was so astounded that I was compelled to pull over and scribble the details down.

Last week, in face of an expected announcement by the Reserve Bank of Australia, decreasing in interest rates, the Australian banks let it be known that they would not necessarily pass on the full decrease to its customers. Nothing new there -as rates were rising, they started passing on more than the increases. So when rates drop, it fits with their current modus operandi to only pass on part of the decrease.

The Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, basically admitted that his government lacked the power to force banks to pass on all of any decrease in official rates. Federal Opposition leader, Malcolm Turnball (after recently acquiring the leadership through nothing short of backroom political backstabbing), started jumping and down about the ineffectiveness of the government in not being able to force the banks to comply.

Now hold on there Malcolm, sunshine, your lot prior to November 24, 2007, didn't do anything to stop banks from passing more more than official increases. If it was so important that government have the power to enforce such matters, then why the hell didn't your lot do it during your last decade-plus in office? How can you now make such noise about the Rudd government's inability to do anything when you know only too damn well that apart from anything else, the necessary legislative framework doesn't exist. What did you expect? That Rudd's boys would be able to rush one through in a matter of days? Not flaming likely.

The RBA made its announcement yesterday. To the amazement of many, including financial markets, the decrease was a full one percent. The banks in turn have said that they will be passing on some 80% of that decrease to its customers. Malcolm Turnball then came out with the absolutely incredible suggestion that this only occurred because the Opposition (meaning him) had made a fuss. His exact expression was that they had 'put a stake in the ground'. I'm not even sure what that expression is intended to mean. And since when does business kow tow to rantings by an Opposition party? Especially when they are going to remain the Opposition for probably another two years yet before being able to have a crack at regaining office. And my money says that Turnball won't even still be leader then.

The Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, was hard pressed so keep himself from laughing when responding to Turnball's colossal arrogance. In fact the ghost of a snigger actually crept into his voice during an official response.

The Opposition Leader of Government Business (in other words, the one who makes the biggest damn noise from the Opposition benches during Parliamentary sessions), Joe Hockey, then made his contribution to this ridiculous episode.

Now our mate Joe is no stranger to making big statements that have no foundation in fact. Take for example his vehement public statements in the second half of 2007 that the Liberal Party was 100% behind the continuing leadership of then leader, John Howard. Very shortly after the November 2007 election loss by Joe's mob, he appears in a documentary claiming that he had personally advised Howard to stand down from the leadership (as numerous others allegedly also did). So much for Joe's very public posturing of support for Howard.

Today Joe Hockey added another limb to his tree of very much self-proclaimed excellence. He is now, apparently, a greater expert in national economics than anyone in the RBA. Joe comes out, insisting that the RBA was wrong to have made such a decrease. Never mind that all the signs are of inflationary pressures easing, not to mention the current risk of major economic collapse as a result of the continuing financial and economic crisis in the USA. A decrease would appear to have been the correct decision to make. But not according to Joe baby - no, he knows better.

Oh - and another little episode from Joe's background which emphasises that despite all this latest posturing, the Liberals were just as impotent in controlling the behaviour of banks as everyone else. The position with Australian banks is that while they are quite happy to accept an authority from a customer to accept authorised debits to their accounts via Direct Debit, withdrawing that authority from the bank was not sufficient to ensure that deductions ceased. Instead, despite a bank no longer holding the authority to permit these deductions to continue, customers were told it was their responsibility to have the party originating the deductions to cease them.

Now our mate Joe held a minor financial portfolio at the time. In response to some consumer complaints about this behaviour, Joe made a very public statement that he was putting the banks etc 'on notice' that this behaviour was unacceptable and not to continue. Great
sound bite Joe, but guess what - the situation didn't change. Just more noise and no action.

So Malcolm Turnball has the Australian banking industry so in awe of him, that they do what he says? Yeah right. *cough cough bullshit cough* And Joe Hockey knows more about macro economics than the Reserve Bank of Australia. *cough cough cough bull-freaking-shit cough*

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I once read that the last year of office for a US president is spent ensuring their legacy. So exactly what is Georgie Dubblyah's legacy for posterity? Here's a few things to ponder.

1. Taking his country and others, including my own, to war in Iraq on what was eventually proven to be a lie.

2. Gradually dismantling practically every welfare initiative put in place by the Clinton administration.

3. Proving the most inept response to national disaster in the Western world in the wake of Hurricane Katrina yet refusing the offer of assistance from other agencies around the world (the cartoon, Family Guy, showed Georgie hiding in a treehouse after Katrina - it's as good an explanation as anything else).

4. Electoral practices widely believed to be dubious at best although I doubt we will ever learn the full story of that first election win.

5. Flatly refusing to acknowledge the threat of global warming, even forcing government scientists to rewrite reports playing this down (did you really think pretending it didn't exist that this would just go away Georgie boy?)

And now...

6. In the wake of a string of major financial collapses, Georgie Dubblyah has admitted that the entire US economy is about to go into meltdown.

In an global environment where energy commodity prices have driven enormous revenue potential all around the world, how is that the USA has managed to avoid being a recipient? How is it that such a massive economy has been allowed to descend into such chaos? Just what role has the hideous expense of the Bush vendetta in the Middle East played in this by robbing the US economy of obviously badly needed funding?

President Trueman famously kept a sign on his desk: 'the buck stops here'. So where is the buck going to stop now? At a time when hundreds of Americans are reportedly loosing their homes every week, you can be sure that Georgie Dubblyah and has buddies won't be losing anything. Instead, Mr Dubblyah will be spending the remainder of his life in protected luxury, significantly funded by the US public purse. And you can be pretty sure that when the inevitable book comes out, although you can be equally assured that the infamously inarticulate Georgie Dubblyah will have someone else write it for him, it will all be somebody else's fault.

And many Australians thought we had it bad with Johnny Howard.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

An update on the hunt for the kangaroo abusers

The RSPCA inform me that there has not been any luck as yet in tracking down the clowns who bravely attacked an injured kangaroo - see my last post. However due to the collected wisdom of these [expletive] first videoing their stunt and then posting it to the Internet, they are being tracked down courtesy of the marvels of our Internet age. I would award them one of my Popsicle Awards except that there definitely is more than an icy pole stick keeping their ears apart - their heads are stuffed full of idiocy and sadistic cruelty.

Let us hope that justice is meted out soon and severely.

Again I ask, if you can help, please contact the RSPCA.

I shall continue to track this story and post more news on it as it comes to hand.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Can you help?

It has taken me some days to write this entry but each time I started to type it up, I became too angry and upset to finish it.

I recently saw an item on the news that both angered and sickened me. The news program broadcast video footage of a young man, kicking and punching a kangaroo until it lay on the ground, at best senseless, at worst, dead. For those who are not particularly familiar with kangaroos, they can move pretty darn quickly. If cornered and are forced to, they can cause some serious damage with massive toes claws on the ends of their massive feet although the first instinct is too run (or rather, to hop). The kangaroo in this footage was clearly unable to get away, suggesting that it was injured in some way.,23599,24329940-2,00.html

This brave bloke was dashing in, punching and kicking and then backing away again out of reach, laughing hysterically the whole time. The clown operating the camera thought it was all great fun.


The video was allegedly posted to a service hosted by an ISP in Western Australia and was brought to the attention of the RSPCA. The RSPCA allege that they contacted the ISP trying to get the item removed but the provider refused for a week. I found that to be almost equally as sickening - that a hosting service can be made aware that it is being used to house and presumably to disseminate material like that and do nothing for a week.

The RSPCA are asking for public assistance in tracking the perpetrators down. Surely they could start by having the police sequester the service provider's records and track down who posted it?

Everyone involved in this sickening matter needs to be tracked down and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for this cruel and cowardly act.

An argument can be made for things like hunting - I used to be a hunter myself until I obtained a different perspective on things - but this was sheer wanton cruelty.

If you are able to help track these bastards down, please contact the Australian RSPCA immediately:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Popsicle Award for a postie

The postal services around the world seem collect some strange types. For example, a small post office in my home town had a postie who was actually illiterate - truly! But this latest news out of Germany takes the cake.

According to, a young Scotsman was employed by the postal authorities in Frankfurt, Germany, as a postie. This bright spark decided that he was too busy to actually deliver his allocated mail, so for a year he threw out and hoarded at least 20,000 letters. A neighbour spotted him tossing a heap of it out into the rubbish and dobbed him in. When police arrived to check things out, apparently they found mail hidden away in a wardrobe, under his mattress and in other places inside his flat. The postie then took the police down to the building's storage cellar where he had hidden away even more.

When police checked things out, they even found mail addressed to this bloke in among the hoarded stuff.

His excuse? Because he was attending night school to earn his secondary school diploma, allegedly found it too overwhelming to carry the mail as well.

This bright spark wins the latest awarding of my Popsicle Stick Award for only having a popsicle stick keeping his ears apart.

You want ... more?

cried the beadle. So he reluctantly handed over another blog - The Broken Nib.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Another hurricane is about to hit New Orleans. President George Dubbleya has cancelled his appearance at the Republican convention (no doubt to the relief of many in the Republican party). A White House spokesman has announced that Georgie Dubbleya cancelled the appearance in order to ensure that his entire attention is focused on the New Orleans situation.

What a relief that must be to the citizens of New Orleans and thereabouts. But does this mean that Georgie Dubbleya's attention was somewhere else during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina? That would at least explain why US authorities were so incredibly slow to send in relief. Yet they refused help from other agencies that volunteered assistance on the ground there. Of course, just how much good is Georgie Dubbleya's 'entire attention' going to be. Like, is the attention of a mentally deranged amoeba really worth that much to anyone?

Georgie Dubbleya would be receiving my Popsicle Award for having a Popsicle stick keeping his ears apart, except I doubt he has even that much in there and is in danger of imminent cranial collapse.

South Park and Britney - not a good combination

I love South Park. Such a clever and bloody funny show along with its social and political commentary. But Matt Stone and Trey Parker have just managed to make me feel distinctly uncomfortable for the first time.

As I type, an episode is playing that makes fun of both Britney Spears and the way people obsess with her etc. Early in the show, the South Park kids trick their way into Britney's motel room, pretending to be her children. An upset Britney was on the telephone but on hearing that her kids were there, really brightened up. On realising that it wasn't her kids, the cartoon Britney put a shotgun in her mouth and blew most of her head away.

No, I didn't think it was funny.

From there, the program focussed on the inappropriate media attention so often turned on her.

I have to admit to having quite a soft spot for Ms Spears. In some pictures, she reminds me almost painfully of the great love of my life who passed away several years back. While her music doesn't do a lot for me as a rule, having watched some of her performances on television, it is obvious even to this old fart that the girl is a knock out performer when on the top of her game.

Just what is this obsession with Britney Spears? The poor girl can't move without media crawling all over. I recall watching an episode of E! one evening, when I was too lazy to even bother changing the channel, only to see them airing footage of Britney visiting a petrol station for cigarettes at something like 4am. She can't even slip out to the all night servo for a pack of smokes without it becoming 'entertainment news'.

My God but I feel sorry for this girl. She was a young teen when she ended up in the entertainment 'business'. She didn't have a normal childhood. She didn't have a family around her as she grew up in that insanity. All that anybody around her seems to want is what they can get out of her. The poor girl was little more than a gibbering, mental wreck yet her recording company pushed her back into the studio, putting out another album, even giving her an Executive Producer credit on it. Maybe Britney wanted to be back in the studio, but was she ready for it? I doubt it. The rest of us would have most likely have been in psychiatric care.

There is so much garbage written about Britney Spears. On one occassion, I walked into a newsagents and was assaulted by headline after headline about Britney. One magazine after another was making wild claims. Britney's engaged! Britney's pregnant! Will Britney ever find true love again? How can one person generate so much rubbish attention? I spend much more time around waiting rooms at the doctor's and at hospital than I would like to. What else is there to do but read the old magazines and get updated on the gossip. Go on, ask me. Ask me for some details about Britney's relationship with Kevin Federline as reported by magazines like Gossip or OK! Or what about Jessica Simpson's breasts (apparently they are real, but that is another article for another time).

A more recent report alleges Ms Spears spending a lot of time at Marilyn Monroe's graveside, obsessing over how much pain Monroe was in when she took her life (or was assassinated, depending on who you believe). Take it from me, that is not healthy behaviour.

Perhaps it is time that everyone began to take a more mature approach to this attention to Britney Spears. Is it really necessary to follow her every single tiny movement? To follow her up stairs, shoving the camera beneath her skirt to take happy snaps of her butt? Hoping that she has another bad episode, going without panties in company of media whores like Paris Hilton? Maybe if the consumers send the message through to the gossip media that we want the girl left alone, then she will be able to try to regain her life. Otherwise, next time it may not be just a cartoon that is blowing its head off.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

and the winner is...

Police are searching for two men who allegedly did a runner on a cab fare.

The cab driver drove them all the way from Canberra to Wagga Wagga, running up over $400 on the meter. On arriving, driver allowed the pair to go off and get the money to pay for the fare. Not surprisingly, he didn't see them again.

What sort of goose agrees to a fare of that size without asking to see the money upfront? So my Popsicle Award goes to this cab driver who clearly only has a popsicle stick keeping the sides of his head from collapsing inwards.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

now THIS is sport!

First, let me make it very clear. I am one of those who was 100% opposed to China ever being given the 2008 Olympics. The fact that China is conspicuously failing to live up to certain commitments regarding the press etc merely strengthens my opinion. However now that they're happening, I have the occasional glance.

As I type this, the Australian women's softball team is two out, scores tied, in the 8th (first tiebreaker) innings against Japan. The loser gets the bronze medal. The winner goes on to play for the gold. Incredibly thrilling stuff. This has been a game of major thrills. At the top of the seventh, Japan had Australia two out and leading by a run. Then one of the Australian team's lesser lights with the bat took the plate and belted a boomer of a home run, evening things up. The Japanese girls were just so close to taking it in their next turn at bat, only to have a runner try for home instead of holding up at third.

The Australian girls failed to score in the 8th, despite getting runners on base. So now the Japanese are back out there. A runner gets to second. A batter desperately trying to bunt their way to getting that runner around to third and in a position to score. Veteran Aussie pitcher Harding on the mound. And yes - it's a double play. And now a flyball safely caught.

Green and gold back on the plate. A runner on second. A wonderful bunt that evades three in-close fielders, fatal hesitation by the fielder with the ball and the runner gets to third. Just a few short metres short of going to the gold medal match. A foul is skied - the Japanese catcher can't get to it. My God - only the laptop literally in my lap is keeping me in my seat.

One of our most consistent hitters at the plate. Good pitching with a viscious flick of the wrist and now we're two out. A big hit is fouled out over the sideline. Wily pitching keeping the batter off balance, not letting the her get set. Another foul. The pressure really on Belinda Wright to hit safely now. Connects - and it's another fly ball. The Australian ninth innings is over and the score is still all tied up. Could the pendulum be slowly swinging towards Japan now?

What a game. Japan is the world number two, and Australia is number two. Both teams fancy themselves of being able to knock off the USA for the gold. But who is it going to be?

The tie breakers start with the last batter out automatically going to second base. Veteran pitcher Tanya Harding on the mound. Fields the expected bunt and gets the hitter out, but the runner has moved safely to third. One of the more dangerous Japanese hitters at the plate.

What must be going through Harding's mind now? A big curve ball misses the plate. Pressure now building on the batter - one strike and one out. A wild pitch from Harding off the plate. No - the batter has been walked with four balls. Runners at first and third, but it is the one at third that we have to worry about. Another time out called - check that everyone is all set, doing what they're supposed to be doing. A viscous ankle biter of a pitch. Two balls, two strikes on the batter. A wonderful pitch from Harding is fouled away. Yes - another flyball keeps the runner on third and now we have them two down. A fast pitch from Harding just misses the plate. Beautiful curve ball right over the plate for a strike. A change up delivery called a ball. A big swing and the ball is fouled away. The adrenaline must be oozing out their earholes! Another lovely rising pitch and one the best Japanese hitters fouls again. A great pitch again but no - it's called ball. Crack - fouls away again. We have to get this girl out - the next hitter is their most consistent hitter. A hit, they're running - and we get the double play. Side away, scores still all tied up at the end of the ninth innings.

An ad break. A bloody ad break. Prime Television - I'm going to kill someone for this. Oh no - a third ad. Come on you bloody lot - what the hell do you think you're doing? And a fourth. Please God - please let all the girls on both teams are taking a breather and we're not missing any play. Oh give me a break - a fifth.

Back to the game. The top of the Australian line up at the base. The expected attempted bunt. The runner at second. We're in the scoring position. A rip snorter of a pitch twists the batter around. I have an 8:30 class in the morning but there is no way that I'm going to even consider opening the books until this game is over. Chases a wide pitch and fouls it away. We just can't get that runner over to third. Great pitching keeping the batter off balance. The pitcher takes too long to deliver the next pitch and a time violation is called. Another ball is automatically added to the batters count - slowly moving slightly in our favour now? A hit and she is run out at first but Belinda Wright is now safely sitting at third base. New batter. A right hander replacing a left hander. The pitcher throws two balls in a row. Has the change of stance gotten to her? A hit - they both run. But the runner tagged out at first. Our tenth innings over and the scores STILL tied up. I desperately need to go to the toilet but can't afford to miss a thing. I now understand all those viewers of the final episode of MASH that refused to go to the loo until it was all over and then overloaded the sewer system with the resulting rush to the bog.

Bottom of the tenth - the Japanese runner tries to get away to third, but no! A bullet of a throw has run her out! A H.U.G.E out! Very next pitch and a flyball straight to the fielder. Two out in two pitches. So much pressure. The Japanese just need a score of any description. A big, safe hit, neatly bisecting the outfielders. Safely on third. That girl didn't run - she flew over the ground around the bases like missile. The next pitch and yes - another flyball safely gloved. Australia gets another chance to try and get another score on the board again.

More ads. Who gives a flying fruitbat's fundament about Dancing With The Bloody Stars? Just get us back to the game for heaven's sake.

The top of the eleventh in this marathon epic. Swings away. Run out. Runner held at second. A very wide ball. The girl at the plate with such a determined look on her face. A biiig swing, hit high and fouled away. What a pearler of a pitch, sneaking inside for a strike. Another big hit fouled away. But that's two fouls in three pitches. Surely she is getting a measure of the pitcher? A clever change up, a hit straight to glove and our runner is still stuck at second while we're two down. This Japanese pitcher deserves a medal for the way that she just keeps shutting us out of things. Ouch - a big swing edged straight down into the batter's ankle. Been there, down that - it hurts.

Wow - that pitch was so wide it should have been called twice! YEEESSSSSS - a safe hit by captain Natalie Ward - she's on second - and the runner has scored! We still have one more batter in hand. Can we score a second time, bringing Ward home? Not the way that Weno is pitching at the moment - low, fast and wide. Clever pitch - right back inside crowding the battrer - but it's another ball. A big hit - travelling..travelling...travelling - and centrefield safely gloves it right on the fence. So close to a home run and a three run lead. But at the end of the innings, we are one run up.

The opposing batters are up to the challenge - an answering score straight away. Another bunt and another runner at second. One of the biggest hitters in the competition now at the plate. This is danger time. Tanya Harding working her bum off, winding up pitching - right over the edge of the plate! No - the ump calls it a ball. C'mon ump! The count up to three balls and a strike. Shit. The Aussies go for discretion and deliberately walk this dangerous individual. Two runners in position on first and second - getting stuck into the new batter at the plate. She is standing right back from the plate and Harding whizzes one over the outside edge of the plate. The batter getting desparate to get wood on the ball. Reaches for it and fouls. Pulls at it and fouls again. This game is still teetering on a knife blade. Batter plays a pull shot that would do Ricky Ponting proud, but it's fouled off again. Crunch - a bottom edge into her shin guard. One ball, two strikes, two outs. A flyball fouled off, holding up, two players in position to take it, one calls for it - and drops it! She fluffed it! A big, rising pitch zips out of Harding's hand and another strike out. Whew! That blunder in the field hasn't cost us anything.

I cannot believe that this game is still going. It looks hot as buggery over there. The pressure must be incredible on both sides. God help the USA regardless of which of these two teams comes up against them. The top of the twelfth - the fifth tie-breaking innings. Ooooh - a cunning pitch sneaks past the Australian bat. Another time violation against the Japanese pitcher - her third for the game. Surely she is getting tired now. A fast, dropping pitch trying to con the batter into a swing but it is safely seen away. And a fourth ball. We have runners on first and second, scores still all tied up.

The reliable Belinda Wright back on the plate. The expected bunt - gets the runner into third. We're in a great position - only one out, a runner at plate and we're back to the top of our batting line up. Foul. A hit - but run out at first. Two down. Kerrie Wyborn back at the plate - the hero of the seventh innings with a big home run. Can she repeat? Pitcher Weno throwing at over 100kph. A big swing and a second strike. A hit and run out. Scoreless yet again. Still tied up. Back to the Japanese to try and finish things.

An ad for the rugby World Cup. Sorry folks - ain't interested at the moment. Get back to our girls on the diamond! Now one from the Liberal party promising the Canberra voters everything for the coming ACT election. Sod off! What's this? An ad for more egocentric aspiring supermodels. That looks like Jennifer Hawkins having something to do with the program. Hmm might look that up eventually. But for the love of all that's holy, get back to the *&^%ing game.

Harding back on the mound. She is good at ripping out these fast, rising pitches that get batters in so much trouble but must be tiring as they're becoming more erratic. A hit and another runner gets to first, and the runner safely at third ready to pounce. Bunt - one out. Runner at second and third. Absolutely no space for the slightest error by our girls now. Harding must be feeling the weight of the entire game resting on her shoulders now. A big hitter at the plate - and our girls go for an intentional walk. That will load the bases but will set up a possible double play. No - the bat connects! High - wide - and safe!

It's over at last. Japan have won. We have another bronze medal. By hell our girls can be bloody proud of themselves. They stuck it and stuck it to the world number two, after taking out the Canadian pretenders earlier in the day. Our opponents are rightly ecstatic, and who could blame them? One hell of a game. I hope for their sakes that the Seppo's were paying close attention because this Japanese team is going to give them a real fight for the gold.

And, at long last, I can safely go to the bog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

FROMELLES - A Night to Remember

The battle is over. My poor boys have done all that man could do.

As he wrote those words to his wife on July 20, 1916, a distraught General Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott of the Australian 15th brigade could probably still hear the cries of the wounded, stranded in no-mans land after the Battle of Fromelles on the Western Front.

In early July 1916, The Somme abbatoir was grinding along. Field Marshal Haig was confident of an early breakthrough, allowing him to send in the cavalry to win the war with lance and sabre – a dream he stubbornly clung to right to the war’s end.

The Somme was essentially a drawn-out battle of attrition and the Allies needed to starve the German lines of reinforcements.

It was decided that the Fromelles-Aubers line on the northern part of the front was the best place to pursue large scale diversionary tactics and keep the enemy from sending reinforcements south.

Two previous Allied failures to mount a successful assault on that part of the German lines did not appear to feature much in the high command’s thinking at this juncture.

Lieutenant-General Richard Haking, commander of the British XI Corp, was asked on July 8 to draw up plans for a major assault.

On July 10 and 11, the 17,800 men of the Australian 5th Division, the latest Australian troops to arrive in France, many of them survivors of the Gallipoli campagain, moved to the Fromelles-Aubers line.

France was a very different proposition to these veterans of the Dardenelles. The Turks had little artillery and front lines were often only a few yards away. Here in France, both sides used massive amounts of artillery intended to smash the enemy into submission (but often didn’t). The enemy made greater use of machine guns than did the Allied forces at this point in the War (Haig had initially dismissed machines guns as being of little value). No-mans land between the opposing lines of trenches was a mess of barbed wire and holes blasted by artillery, extending up to a mile in width. Even in summer they frequently had to contend with sticky, clay mud.

Haking drew up an ambitious plan which bore a striking similarity to his earlier failed attempts there, but it was initially rejected.

After the Somme breakthrough did not occur, Haig’s staff reconsidered the Fromelles situation and determined on an artillery ‘demonstration’. A total of 360 artillery pieces were to pound the German lines for at least three days over a 15,000 yard front, to deceive them into thinking a major offensive was imminent.

Around July 13, the plan was changed with infantry to now take a part in the ‘demonstration’. A revised version of Haking’s plan was to be put into effect, attacking a 6000 yard-wide front with Haking put in charge of the operation.

Troops from the Australian 5th Division, were lent to Haking for the assault. The Division’s 8th, 14th and 15th brigades were moved in to the front along the Fromelles line, replacing troops from the 4th Division who were moved south to The Somme.

British 31st and 61st Divisions were to attack either side of a slope called the Sugarloaf which was heavily fortified with German guns. The Australian troops were to attack the main German lines along the north-eastern front.

The troops assembled on paper may have looked good. The reality was starkly different. The newly arrived Australian troops were yet to acclimatise, let alone become familiar with their part of the front. The British 61st was newly arrived from England and badly undermanned, having been picked over to supply reinforcements for elsewhere. The 31st had been only recently relieved from The Somme and was exhausted.

On July 14, Haking’s plan was modified again to attack across a narrower 4,000 yard-wide front. The 61st were to take the Sugarloaf by themselves. The Australian troops were still to assault the main German lines. The 31st were removed from the assault force entirely.

Once the German lines had been taken, succeeding waves were to advance beyond the captured lines to take German supply trenches supposedly located behind 100-200 yards behind the main lines. The first wave was then to abandon the newly won positions and advance in support of the advance on the support lines. This proved to be a fatal flaw which the German troops later took full advantage of.

After the early lessons of The Somme, Haig’s headquarters had distributed a circular to all units which stated that assaulting troops were not to advance across any more than 200 yards following an artillery barrage. Any further than that and the Germans had sufficient time to emerge from their heavily fortified dugouts and reoccupy their frequently largely undamaged parapets.

Despite Haig’s circular, Haking’s plan called for the attacking troops to practically all cross more than the maximum 200 yards, with the Australian 15th brigade to advance over more than 400 yards of water-filled shell holes, ditches and barbed wire. Looming immediately to the 15th’s flank was the heavily fortified German position on the Sugarloaf.

The attack was to proceed on July 17.

Around this time, ‘Pompey’ Elliott met with a Major Howard from Haig’s headquarters. He escorted Howard along their front, examining the terrain in front of the 15th brigade. According to Elliott, he claimed that the attack could not possible succeed and states Howard agreed it would be ‘a holocaust’. Yet more doubt about the operation that appears to have had little impact.

The Australian troops had only two-and-a-half days to prepare – laying long lines of duckboards to take the foot traffic of thousands of men up to and along the front as well as laying tramways to transport heavier equipment. Large quantities of ammunition and bombs (grenades), thousands of sandbags, hundreds of picks and shovels, all to be moved forward. Telephone cables were to be laid and aid posts set up. It was a frantic and exhausting undertaking.

The day before the attack, July 16, a surprising development occurred. Haking’s deputy chief of staff advised Haking and his superiors that the attack need not go ahead. However, Haking convinced his commanding officer, General Munro, that the attack had to go ahead or damage the troops’ morale.

It is doubtful that any of the exhausted diggers would have agreed with him.

The day of the intended assault, the 17th, was clouded with a heavy mist. Haking reluctantly proposed postponing the assault to the following day.

Munro, who only a day earlier had supported Haking, now refused permission for the postponed assault to proceed.

Haig and his staff now did yet another about-face of their own. Munro was directed that the attack was to proceed ‘as soon as possible’. But the order had an important qualification. Munro was permitted to call the assault off entirely if he thought conditions were unfavourable or his resources inadequate.

After being given this escape clause by Haig, despite his earlier doubts, Munro now quite inexplicably decided that the assault should proceed after all.

The Allied artillery barrage commenced at 11am on July 19, preceeding the 6pm jump off. After days of obvious troop movements and preparations, plus a heavy artillery barrage, the coming assault was anything but a secret to the enemy. Occupying the higher ground, they had a bird’s eye view of everything. The assaulting troops were to be sent across no-mans land in daylight onto the waiting and ready enemy guns.

A little after 2pm, as the trenches filled with waiting Allied soldiers, the German artillery began to reply. The carnage among the tightly packed troops was terrible. Ammunition dumps exploded. Fires started. Communication lines were destroyed.

The 8th brigade on the Australian flank not only had to contend with the enemy artillery, they were badly hit by their own artillery falling short.

On the other side of the Sugarloaf, the British 61st Division, already badly undermanned, was savaged by the enemy artillery. These additional losses made their vital task of taking the Sugarloaf all but impossible. Their attack failed.

The German guns atop the Sugarloaf were now able to concentrate their fire on Elliott’s advancing 15th brigade. The assaulting troops became pinned down only half-way across no-mans land. Yet some returning wounded reported breaking into the German lines. Mislead into believing the assault was succeeding, Elliott ordered his forces to continue the assault.

The 14th brigade in the centre of the Australian line, only had some 250 yards to cover. But with the 15th pinned down, the Sugarloaf guns were able to turn their attack onto the centre line. Despite horrific casualties, elements of the 14th reached the German lines and established a foothold. The following waves pressed on, searching for the rear support lines. The original assaulting wave now left their positions in the captured enemy lines to support the later waves, as ordered.

Meanwhile, the fighting strength of the 8th brigade on the other Australian flank had been depleted the double blows of German and misdirected Allied artillery.

The Allied artillery had failed to achieve its overall objectives. Barbed wire had survived in most places. Parapets had not been destroyed. German troops had survived the barrage in their strong dugouts. The increasingly undermanned 8th brigade had to advance across no-mans land in the face of much greater enemy fire than the plan had anticipated. Yet, a slim foothold was established in the enemy lines. Latter waves pressed on in search of the supposed German support lines.

But where were these support lines? All that could be found were old, abandoned trenches, half-filled with water. The Australian troops had to hastily set up sand bag defences, trying to shovel awkward, thick, sticky clay.

The piecemeal success of the Australian units meant that there were major sections of the line still occupied by enemy troops. With Haking’s plan requiring vacation of newly won territory, German troops were able to slip back to reoccupy their positions. Enemy fire now poured out from the sides, from retaliating German troops to the front and from the abandoned lines to their rear.

By the early hours of the morning of July 20, the truth began to emerge at the various headquarters. The attack was failing - badly.

The remaining forces from the 8th and 14th brigades were eventually forced to abandon their poor positions behind the enemy lines and charge into the German guns in the reoccupied trenches, before the final dash back across no-mans land with the enemy guns to their rear.

By 9am, the battle was well and truly over. Only hours in duration, but one of the most significant disasters in Australian military history. Australian casualties tallied 5,500 along with a further 1,500 British. Survivors of both the Dardenelles campaign claimed Fromelles was far worse than anything they had faced in the Gallipoli landings.

Fatalities were especially high among the wounded left stranded in no-mans land. Days after the battle, wounded were still struggling in, their wounds untreated and flyblown.

A truce was negotiated so both sides could retrieve and treat their wounded. However it was abandoned on orders from 5th Division headquarters.

The aftermath: thousands of lives, most of them Australian, were thrown away for no real good reason, in an attack that seemingly everyone bar Haking had doubts about. Senior command elements appeared unable to settle on a final plan of attack or even whether to attack at all. Haking’s demand for deliberate abandoning of newly won trenches without control of the German lines, was suicidal insanity. And the advancing troops were sent in search of enemy support lines that didn’t actually exist.

As Elliott sat writing to his wife, he was a shattered man. Letters and diaries talk of him being openly in tears at what had been done to his ‘poor boys’. As for the primary architect of this disaster, Lieutenant-General Richard Haking, he was later recommended for promotion.

Well might Pompey Elliott have wept.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ship Ahoy!

*warning - there are a few rude words in this piece

People sometimes accuse me of being a bullshit artist. Now that’s a bit unfair. Is it my fault that interesting things happen to me? Like the incident with the boat – nobody ever believes that one. What? Haven’t I told you about that? Well mate, it was like this…

It was a typical Friday evening. After a convivial evening spent down at the Burvale Pub, blowing the froth off a few and perhaps a few more, I was headed home. Having drunk my cab fare, I had weaved my way back to the Nunawading train station.

Springvale Drive around Nunawading is six lanes wide – it’s a seriously big and busy bugger of a road, mate. Now just as I was nearing the shops, I heard this horrible sound like a huge hand scraping its fingernails down a blackboard. I looked up to see an enormous shower of orange sparks coming my way. An enormous shadow towered above the fireworks.

It was the prow of a yacht. No mate, I’m not kidding – a bloody yacht. And not just a little catamaran, it was a huge ocean-going yacht in the middle of suburbia for criven’s sake, perched on top of a tiny boat trailer. In the middle of the flaming road! And the bloody thing was heading straight for me! For a moment I just stared at it, mouth open, frozen like a kangaroo in your headlights. Then I did what any other self-respecting drunk would do in the circumstances. I gathered my self together and… “Shiiiiiiit!”

Up it loomed over me. Just as it seemed sure to run me down, the boat trailer clipped the gutter, spun around and crashed over with an almighty craaaack. It snapped a sapling on the nature strip off at the base in a spray of twigs and leaves. A No Standing sign was torn out of the ground and flew though the air. As the boat hit the ground, its side exploded into a deluge of marine ply and fibreglass.

Silence reigned supreme after the last pieces of debris had hit the ground. I felt a bit like Wile E Coyote after another trap for the roadrunner had just backfired. Then I heard someone yelling. It was the attendant from a nearby service station who was sprinting down the footpath towards me.

“Are you alright mate?”

“Ahh yeah I think so,” I replied.

“Geez I thought that it’d hit ya mate.”

The pair of us stood there and stared at the mess before looking at each other dumbfounded. Could we believe our eyes? It was a yacht!

Another voice yelled and we glanced around to see someone approaching from the opposite direction. The new arrival ignored us and rushed over to the yacht. He had a horrified look on his face. You’d think someone had pinched his smokes just after the pub had closed.

“All the way to the fucking Whitsundays and back and almost fucking home!” he yelled. “Look at that,” he screamed, pointing at the front of the boat trailer. “The fucking towbar broke!”

“Yeah I’m alright thanks mate,” I muttered.

Sarcasm obviously didn’t mean much to this clown and he continued to rant and rave.

It was at this point that the Seventh Cavalry arrived. To be more precise, a truckload of SAS (Saturdays and Sundays) Army Reservists pulled up and all piled out, looking resplendent in their starched jungle greens, and formed up on the footpath. A pissant little corporal spun around on his heel and marched over to the three of us.

“Can we be of assistance gentleman?” the corporal snapped out and stroked a fuzzy little moustache that perched on his lip like a lazy caterpillar. What a Stormin’ Norman wannabe.

“Um yeah – help me turn it back over again?” boat owner said. He had gone very quiet in the face of this military might.

The corporal marched back to his troops. “Gentleman – on my command, you will take up positions around the vehicle and be ready to manoeuvre it upright.”

On he droned, detailing their plan of attack for this exercise. Struth – you’d reckon he was Blamey and Monty all rolled into one on D-Day!

The servo attendant turned to the boat owner. “How heavy is that thing mate?”

“Pretty light – the three of us could probably turn it over.”

So the three of us gathered around the boat, grabbed a handhold and heaved. I couldn’t believe just how light it was. I’m telling you mate, if that’s all that’s keeping the water out I’m NEVER going sailing. The boat trailer, still carrying the splintered remains of the yacht, was soon up and over, bouncing back onto its wheels once more.

“Hey boys – we’re all done here,” the servo attendant called out to the Lean Green Fighting Machine.

Corporal Stormin’ turned and glared at us. You could practically read his mind. How dare these civilians interfere with my operation!

Spying the battered street sign laying to one side, Stormin’ snapped out an order. His squad rushed over, picked up the sign and took it with them as they clambered back aboard their truck. Stormin’ then stepped up into the cab and waved the driver to be away. Exit the military – stage right.

“God help us if we need them in a fucking war,” the boat owner growled. He turned and stalked back to his car, muttering something about shoving a towbar up someone’s bum.

“Looks like the show’s over,” the servo attendant said and wandered back to his petrol pumps.

I was alone once more. What the hell just happened? Realisation finally hit home. I was almost run over by a yacht in landlocked Nunawading! I started to laugh. Wait until I start telling people about this one!


“Hey – guess what?” I yelled to my house mate and her boyfriend as I burst into the house shortly after. “I was almost run over by a boat!”

Carolyn looked up from her canoodling on the couch and regarded me carefully. “Just how pissed are you?” The pair of them began to laugh – at me, not with me. And kept on laughing all the way to the bedroom.

“You wait,” I yelled after them. “It’ll be in the paper sometime. You’ll have to believe me then.”

The story never did appear in the paper. Presumably the editor didn’t believe it either.

To this day nobody ever believes that I was almost run down by an ocean-going yacht on Springvale Drive. What a gip. But like I said mate, it’s a true story. Can I help it if unbelievable things happen to me?

One Elle of a Life

The paparazzi surge. Cameras snap. Flashes dazzle. A gorgeous, long-legged woman steps free of the crush, flashing that trademark, stunning smile.

That’s my Elle Macpherson. Yes, you heard me right – my Elle Macpherson. So you can all get your grubby little fingers off.

Boy do I remember Elle’s first big break. It seems so long ago that it may have been a different world. That red bikini. The beach. The cans of Tab. All plastered across our television screens and massive billboards all around the country. I fell completely, utterly and irretrievably in love. I even contemplated actually buying a can of Tab in the hope of Elle magically appearing, still fresh from the beach. What self-respecting bloke back then would have considered buying diet soft drink unless he was hopelessly in love?

Come the late 1980s Elle was a magnificent cover for Time magazine – not quite their usual fare. Those shots really got to me. That white-enamelled smile seemed to be lifting up out of the page, beaming just for me. Back then I considered myself an aspiring photographer. Sadly a maggot on the downside of a bad acid trip could have taken better happy snaps than me. Still I fantasised about photographing that smile and being able to keep it just for myself.

Yeah – like that was ever going to happen.

It was big news when Elle did a calendar. In those days, a calendar job was a huge deal. Not like today when just about any jumped up Neville Nobody seems to get one for doing a voiceless, two-second walk-on slot in Neighbours ten years ago. But Elle’s calendar – that was something else. I hate to think how many hours I wasted staring at those magnificent, glorious pictures on my wall – teasing me, taunting me. Oh Elle – you fiend!

You could be forgiven for thinking it is just The Body’s body that I lust after. Not so. Well maybe that had a bit to do with it in the beginning, but no longer. This is a woman who didn’t just conquer her chosen profession, but kicked the living hell out of it on the way. Then started her own lingerie line, making the most out of unconventional advertising on a budget of next to nothing. The lady’s smart as well as a genuine feminine bombshell.

A little while back I saw Elle being interviewed on a current affairs program.

Is there anything else you’d like to say,’ asked the male reporter.

Elle leaned forward with her trademark, cheeky, dimpled and slightly flirty smile. ‘That depends if you have anything else you want to ask me,’ she replied in a throaty voice followed by a tinkling laugh.

That was my Elle he was flirting with! I saw red. I yelled. I spat the dummy and kicked the cat (relax – it is a cardboard cat because starving writers cannot afford cat food and it saves me from the tender attentions of the RSCPA). Sluggish testosterone surged into life, bursting through the hormonal cobwebs. Watch it fella!

In more recent times, Elle has been romantically linked to a much younger man. Well I doubt that anybody would be blaming the youngster for falling for her. But come on Elle – some of us have been desperately in love with you from before the kid was a glint in the milkman’s eye! (sob)

I was in hospital a couple of years ago when Elle split with her long-time partner. I had little else to do but lay back, think about things and avoid the attentions of a particularly neurotic nurse (but that’s another story).

That is when I hit on it – a brilliant, winning pitch guaranteed to sweep Elle off of her feet. An absolute sure-fire winner of an ironclad argument! It goes a bit like this.

Elle – we should be an item because…

We’re both Aussies.

We’re the same age.

We both have Scot’s heritage.

We’re both intelligent (well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

You are one of the world’s most beautiful and glamorous women, and I have been told that my left elbow is rather appealing!

How could Elle resist that? I can see the future already. A red carpet event in the USA. Celebs and photographers everywhere. Joan Rivers doing a red carpet commentary.

‘Look – there’s Elle looking magnificent in a red Vercaci gown. And yes – Mr Drivel’s elbow should just be coming into camera shot next to Elle. What a lovely couple they make – Elle and the elbow.’

So what do you reckon Elle?

What a pity that the rest of me is short, unattractive and hitting the dreaded middle age spread.

Perhaps I should just stick to the first idea and start looking for an old can of Tab.