Monday, October 23, 2017

Meet Australia's Next Liberal PM

Sydney Morning Herald journalist Jacqueline Maley has written a profile of Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg for Saturday's Good Weekend. Tellingly, it is called Power play. In it, we learn that "he has his sights set... on politics' big prize: the prime ministership."

We also learn that Frydenberg has what it takes to win the 'prize' - he inhabits an elite politician's parallel universe:

"McQuie recounts a conversation among the [sheep] station's workers where Frydenberg couldn't understand how someone could survive on an income of less than $100,000 a year. 'He was like, Wow, good lord, how do you do that?' McQuie says Frydenberg was also impressed at the quiet resourcefulness of the stockmen. 'He said, All my political career I've been telling everyone how good I am, and what my strengths are,' recalls McQuie. 'He said, You guys are so capable, but you don't tell anyone about it'."

Given Frydenberg's vaulting ambition, and since Maley doesn't subject him to the pre-eminent litmus test for intellectual and moral courage in our time - the Palestine/Israel test - we particularly need to know where this product of Melbourne's Bialik & Mount Scopus Memorial colleges stands in relation to the Zionist entity.

While not perhaps conclusive, the following two quotes such that if she had put him to the test, the result would have been a clear, if not epic, fail:

- "I don't agree with everything Israel does but I also will defend its ability to secure itself against some very hostile neighbours." Josh Frydenberg on Q&A, 2015

- "We were with you [Israelis] 100 years ago around the anniversary we commemorate today with Anzac Day, we were with you during the Shoah and I was at Yad Vashem just a couple of days ago, we are with you today at the United Nations, we are with you today on the border with Sinai and Syria [where Australia has peacekeepers] and we will be with you for a long time to come." Josh Frydenberg, quoted in Frydenberg in Israel, The Australian Jewish News, 27/4/17

Hm... I think there's little room for doubt here: Josh Frydenberg is destined to be Australia's next Liberal PM, don't you?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Herald Finally Discovers 'Balcony Over Jerusalem'

John Lyons' Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir (1917) is the most important book ever written on the existence and modus operandi of Australia's under-the-radar Israel lobby since Antony Loewenstein's 2006 My Israel Question.

Curiously, although it's been in the bookshops since July, the Sydney Morning Herald has so far ignored it - that is, until yesterday. Instead of the merited full review, however (and for reasons best known to those responsible for the book reviews in the Herald's weekend Spectrum), it was relegated to the following mere mention:

"On the balcony of their house in Jerusalem, foreign correspondent John Lyons and his wife, Sylvie Le Clezio, watched history unfold. 'Our balcony became our private time machine. We could fast-forward from the biblical past to the troubled present. We could see tear-gas being fired at Palestinians and rocks being thrown at Israeli soldiers.' From this box seat, Lyons ventured out into the Middle East covering the war in Syria, the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi and the Arab Spring. But it his reporting on the slow-motion tragedy within Israel and the occupied territories, and the public relations war waged by the Israeli government and media to keep its citizens and the rest of the world in the dark that gives this engrossing book its spine and force. 'If the whole world could see the occupation up close, it would demand that it end tomorrow'." (Fiona Capp, In Short Non-Fiction)

It has to be said here: it isn't only "the Israeli government" that keeps us "in the dark" on this issue - it's also the gutless, self-censoring Fairfax press.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Michael Danby's Magical Mystery Tour

"Labor frontbenchers are losing patience with federal MP Michael Danby over repeated corrections he has made to his register of interests this week after it was revealed he went to Israel for speaking engagements while claiming to be too ill to attend parliament. Mr Danby has lodged three separate alterations to his parliamentary register to declare sponsored travel and other previously undisclosed interests since The Australian reported on Monday that he flew to Israel and Geneva in September last year for a busy round of scheduled conferences. Changes are meant to be lodged within 28 days of occurring, and knowingly providing false information risks referral for contempt of parliament.

"The Israel trip caused dismay in Labor ranks because Mr Danby had submitted a medical certificate stating he was unfit for parliamentary duties for a period that was later found to coincide with his travel. Bill Shorten has so far deflected media questions about Mr Danby's unsanctioned trip since The Australian's first report on the subject. However, he is reported to be not pleased after recently reprimanding the Labor MP for using his parliamentary allowance to fund an advertisement attacking the ABC's Jerusalem correspondent over her coverage.

"It is understood the Labor leader told Mr Danby this week to amend his parliamentary register so that it was correct, but the Labor MP since has been forced to make further changes because required information was missing or incomplete. Mr Danby submitted a brief change on Monday that said 'Economy fare Geneva - Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm.' The handwritten update was stamped by parliament's register on the day The Australian's first report on the subject appeared and several days after questions about Mr Danby's September 2016 travels were sent to him for a response. It did not name the trip's sponsor nor list any dates. A day later, Mr Danby replaced the update with another that said a pro-Israeli group, NGO Monitor, had helped pay for his overseas trip. This second update was worded differently: 'Economy flight Ben Gurion - Geneva 17-19 September 2016'. It reversed the order of Mr Danby's flight destination, no longer mentioned any sponsored accommodation and appeared to list Geneva travel dates when Mr Danby was still in Israel.

"Mr Danby then submitted a third register change, stamped on Wednesday, following reports in The Australian's Margin Call column that discussed interests including an undisclosed 20-year-old company directorship and a mortgage on a Fitzroy property.

"Resentment among Labor colleagues has compounded following confirmation that much of Mr Danby's Israel trip related to previously scheduled events, despite his claims to be ill. The Jerusalem Post said in its Grapevine column on September 13 last year that Mr Danby was in Israel and would hold a press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club 'on Sunday of next week'. The Post's advance notice said the press conference would be jointly hosted by Mr Danby and pro-Israeli lobby group NGO Monitor, which has Mr Danby as a member of its international advisory board. The column included details of how the Labor MP intended to speak out about an alleged scandal involving World Vision's aid operations in Gaza. Labor colleagues said yesterday that notice of a public event hosted by him in Israel 'on Sunday of next week' suggested the Labor MP's trip was pre-planned. One said yesterday: 'He's not looking like an accidental tourist here'." (MP anger over 'sick' Danby's world trip, Brad Norington, The Australian, 20/10/17)

But there's more:

"Labor's member for Melbourne Ports Michael Danby has stuck by his just-in-time approach to parliamentary disclosure all week. Yesterday he finally lifted the veil on a 20-year-old corporate directorship and a host of other freebies. It's been a game of catch-up for the two-decade federal parliamentary veteran, who has fleshed out detail on a trip last year to Israel while on sick leave from federal parliament and has now confirmed his directorship of mysterious corporate vehicle Roosevelt Nominees. The company was formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created in 1997, just ahead of Danby's entry to parliament the next year. It hasn't rated a mention Danby's register until now. He stresses it's a 'non-trading entity'.

"Danby has also just revealed he's got shares in the once Aidan Allen-advised listed law firm Slater and Gordon... He also has membership in the Qantas and Virgin clubs. 'Membership automatically aquired (sic) when becoming an MP, the same as other MPs,' he told the Register of Members Interests yesterday. Better late than never. There's also news of the mortgage on his partner Amanda Mendes da Costa's home in North Fitzroy, which her mum lives in rent-free. No word though, on his lawyer wife's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Expect that in the 46th parliament - if Danby still has a seat by then." (Better late than never, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 20/10/17)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Like Pulling Teeth

"The Michael Danby disclosure story continues, one comically late update after another.

"Yesterday, Labor's member for Melbourne Ports fleshed out the details of his trip to Israel last year while on sick leave from federal parliament, finally revealing part of his trip had been funded by the Jerusalem-based Gerald M. Steinberg-founded NGO Monitor, which analyses and reports on the output of the international NGO community from a pro-Israel perspective.

"But still nothing on the convalesced Danby's mysterious corporate vehicle, Roosevelt Nominees, formerly known as Daroda Investments, which was created 20 years ago, before Danby entered parliament in 1998. Almost two decades on and it's yet to rate a mention on the register of members' interests. We were told last night that 'fast fingers' Danby was on the case, but the material was still to be processed by the registry office.

"And the paperwork shouldn't end there. Eventually there should be an update on Danby's Melbourne barrister wife Amanda Mendes da Costa's new job as a full-time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, announced last month by Attorney-General George Brandis. The AAT reviews government decisions, with Mendes da Costa to be paid in the order of $305,000 a year for the job... As for the house that Mendes da Costa has in North Fitzroy, Danby tells us her mum lives in it rent-free. Still, there's a mortgage on it to Ian Narev's CBA that Danby perhaps may want to note. All in his own time.

"And what about the Qantas Chairman's Club membership and complementary Foxtel service that Danby has received but not disclosed? 'The electoral office has a Foxtel connection,' Danby told us. 'Like all MPs, I am automatically a member of the Qantas Club and it was not a sought membership.' That's an interesting interpretation of Privileges and Members' Interests committee chairman Ross Vasta's disclosure guidelines. Wonder what he makes of it?" (Danby's trip disclosure near dandy, Will Glasgow & Christine Lacy, The Australian, 19/10/17)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Danby Declines

"... Mr Danby has declined to say who helped fund his travels in September last year in a handwritten update to his parliamentary register of interests that was submitted hastily on Monday after The Australian asked questions about the trip. Nor has the Labor MP listed the dates for his sponsored travel and hospitality in the sparsely worded update that says: 'Economy fare Geneva-Ben Gurion 2 nights accomm'... Bill Shorten has refused to comment about Mr Danby claiming to be too ill to attend parliament and then leaving the country for speaking engagements... " (Danby fails to name donors, Brad Norington, The Australian, 18/10/17)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Zionising Palestinian & Australian History

Here we go again: more Zionisation of Palestinian and Australian history:

"Anticipating a visit to Israel by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for centenary commemorations of the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba on October 31, the Times of Israel has reproduced a re-enactment photograph showing horsemen bearing the Australian and Israeli flags side-by-side. Quite apart from anything else the image is historically inaccurate since no such Israeli flag existed in 1917, nor the State of Israel itself. That would come 31 years later. (Australia's complicated contribution to the State of Israel, Tony Walker, Sydney Morning Herald, 16/10/17)

"Why such an ahistorical embellishment of a sacred event in Australian history should be necessary is a matter for the organisers, but it is difficult to escape a conclusion politics is involved... "

"Sacred"? When (not to mention why) did this event become "sacred."? If it ever did.

And no, it's not at all "difficult" to escape the conclusion that this event has been Zionised. (The word 'politicisation' doesn't even begin to call a spade a spade in this case.)

"It remains a stretch... to suggest that Beersheba was a midwife to Israel's birth."

Merely a "stretch"? Try 'utter bullshit'.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Not So Fine & Danby

"Danby is not a single-issue politician but is a strong supporter of Israel... " (Greg Sheridan, Its response to Danby lays bare ABC's hubris, The Australian, 14/10/17)

Apparently, last September, senior Labor MPs were looking everywhere for the shadow minister for Tel Aviv, scratching their pates and wondering, one to the other, where on earth he could possibly be, only to find he was on a Tel Aviv-related mission. Who'd have thought, they were heard to exclaim on this surprise finding:

"Federal Labor MP Michael Danby took a trip to Israel and pursued some of his favourite causes after allegedly telling his party back home that he was too ill to attend a sitting week of parliament. Mr Danby... made the trip in September last year during a two-week absence. He had supplied a medical certificate that stated he was unfit for parliamentary duties. The second week of Mr Danby's absence coincided with a sitting week of parliament. During that time he was in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, to attend a counter-terrorism conference...

"Senior Labor sources have confirmed Mr Danby's journey... was not sanctioned by the party leadership, and not known in advance. His leave was not related to representing Australia...

"A few days after attending the summit event... Mr Danby spoke at a media conference at the Jerusalem Press Club. The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that he had been invited by the pro-Israel group, NGO Monitor, to Jerusalem to address 'the recent World Vision scandal' which allegedly involved millions of dollars in aid money for Gaza that had been siphoned off to militant Palestinian group Hamas. 'If Australian money was spent on building (Hamas terror) tunnels, that is beyond the pale,' Mr Danby was reported as saying.

"Although some Labor MPs believed Mr Danby was at home in Melbourne and unwell at the time of his international trip, others thought he was on compassionate leave, spending time with his former wife, who had been seriously ill. When concerned senior colleagues called Mr Danby's mobile phone from Canberra during the parliamentary week to ask after his health, they were puzzled to hear 'international pips', they said... After further calls, they learned Mr Danby was in Israel and intended to speak out about World Vision at the Jerusalem Press Club. They attempted to persuade him not to hold the media conference, but failed.

"Senior Labor MPs have wondered how his activities could be described as parliamentary business when the House of Representatives was in session and he would normally be required to attend, if able. Questions have also been raised about whether Mr Danby's stand against World Vision, while consistent with the Israeli government's position, was in line with ALP policy. World Vision officials deny aid funds were wrongly diverted to Hamas. The manager of aid operations for Gaza has been in Israeli custody for 15 months pending a possible prosecution, with World Vision trying to secure his release.

"The Australian asked Mr Danby to comment on how he came to be abroad when he was assumed to be on sick leave during a parliamentary week. Mr Danby was also asked if any of his leave and accommodation costs in September last year were paid by sponsors, and if so, who paid. He was asked for comment on why a number of senior Labor colleagues were not aware of his overseas travel when parliament was sitting - until finding out during his absence. In response, Mr Danby told The Australian last night: 'I received medical advice to take a complete break and get away. I took that advice. Unauthorised release of private medical information is ethically wrong. None of us want our private health details released, especially when they're used to distort circumstances. No taxpayer dollars were involved in the trip.'

"Mr Danby's globetrotting in September last year was spread over three weeks, starting in Israel and including Geneva, where he spoke at a UN-linked NGO Monitor event on September 26... " (Shorten's 'sick' ally took trip to Israel, Brad Norington, The Australian, 16/10/17)